New Ciders & a New Year

The last time I made cider was two years ago. And the previous vintage was two years before that. Happily, I made so much both times that there was plenty of cider to get through the off years. I don’t like the lulls though. The whole idea of being a cidermaker is to make cider.

So I am happy that in November I started five batches of new ciders, which I racked into secondary yesterday. They include:

  • Cherry cider (6 gallons; potential ABV 7% )
  • Penn cider (6 gallons; potential ABV 8%)
  • Brown Sugar (3 gallons; potential ABV 8%)
  • Medaille d’Or single varietal (1 gallon; potential ABV 9.5%)
  • Raw blend (2 gallons; potential ABV 7.5%)
Top: Raw Blend * Brown Sugar
Bottom: Penn * Medaille d’Or * Cherry
Everything is now racked into secondary.

I’m hopeful there will be a few more ciders added, particularly Golden Russet. I’m waiting on the orchard.

While I’m not crazy about off-years, it does offer a little time to think and plan. This was especially helpful as these last two years offered a few unexpected opportunities, which have helped me refine my thinking about my cidering and cider history research.

One of the things I was noticing over the the last two vintages is how “bready” some of the ciders tasted, even a year after they were bottled. While it wasn’t all of ciders fermented in plastic, all of the “bready” ones were fermented in plastic. I decided to drop the plastic fermenting buckets this year and see if that changed anything.

Perhaps the worst offender of “breadiness” is the boiled cider. Since it’s so commonly referenced in historical sources, I was excited to try it. However, whether it was through the processing (you reduce the volume of sweet cider by half and then ferment that) or the plastic fermenters, or something else altogether, these ciders have not aged well. J. pointed out that I usually find something good to say about all of the ciders I’ve made. Not this one. It is unpleasant to drink.

Along with making goals, there are some research goals for the 2020. I want to continue to expand my archive of period recipes. Since we’re in the middle of Prohibition’s centennial, I want to get back to the “Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider?” series. And, after a heated conversation with someone on a cider Facebook group, I want to explore the desire to connect the Founding generation to cider. There might even be a survey.

Lastly, I want to get out into the world more. I’d like to increase the number of cider talks I give, particularly the Prohibition talk. I also want to finally make it to Franklin County Cider Days.

For now, I’d better call the orchard back and see if the rest of the juice is ready. Here’s to a productive 2020!

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