An Apple A Day

Or approximately 100 pounds of them – but I am getting ahead of myself.

I started the day by making coffee, as most sane people do. I forgot to turn it on, but that is another story altogether. Having prepared the coffee (almost), I set to bottling my porter. Friday I had tested the SG (1.008, and thus 5.38% ABV) and prepped bottles and such. The flavor was quite decent, and the smoothness quite noticeable (from the oatmeal). Looking forward to sampling it once in the bottle and carbonated!

I started by heating up 1/2 cup of sugar in 1 1/2 cups of water, for priming. I let this cool in my bottling bucket before beginning to rack the porter onto it. Didn’t take very long, and I was off and running. After racking, I had 4 1/3 gallons of porter to work with, which is about what I expected due to trub and airspace.

Bottling was uneventful, but took longer than I would have liked. But in the end, I had 47 bottles of porter.

I then rushed off to Kuk Sool Won (Korean martial arts), for which I was very nearly late.

Returning home was where the real work – er, I mean, fun – began. I was ready to start grinding up apples and pressing them! And for the first time doing it, I have to say, not too bad. But it took forever. I wasn’t as efficient as I might have liked, either in apple prep or pressing, but the end result was delicious, and I believe it will make a very tasty cider (among other things!).

It seriously took all afternoon. There was a small break to eat dinner (which included some of the fresh-pressed cider in its preparation), but other than that, I worked straight from about 1 until 8. It was rather monotonous – pick up apple, core, quarter, blend, pick up more, core, quarter, blend…place in bag in press. I ended up pressing twice based on the amount of fruit I needed to press.

After pressing, I had produced about 5 1/2 gallons for the cider fermentation. Another quart was placed in the refrigerator. And we had consumed a few small samples of the fresh-pressed juice (that were quite good, I might add). The juice is from an apple mixture – of Mutsu, Arkansas Black, Stayman Winesap, and Jonathon (at a ratio of 2:1:1:0.9). Far better than any cider in the store, and better than the pre-packaged cider available at the apple farm. Maybe not as economical, though…

I added a 1/4 tp. of potassium metabisulfite to the juice set aside for cider. Tomorrow I will move to pitching the yeast.

But, that’s not all! After pressing, there’s quite a bit of pomace, and mine was fairly flavorful as I was not very efficient (not awfully so, but the pulp certainly wasn’t very dry, in my mind). So I asked Kim to look up if we could use the pomace in apple  butter or some such thing. She never found anything for that, but we did find some links about ciderkin, and Kim was intrigued enough (and thought the kids might appreciate it) that I got to work on that.

First, I set aside 4 pounds of the pomace and added 2 gallons of water to it, This will be a quick “wine” – we’ll ferment it one or two days, before filtering it some and chilling it. Should still be sweet, with a light apple flavor, and only a slight level of alcohol. That’s for my wife and I. It’s just an experiment – not sure if it will turn out right, but why not try? Beats tossing the pomace. I’m sure it can still be composted after.

I then added 3 gallons of water to the remaining pomace (that’s all the room that was left in the bucket I was using). The apple pomace soaked it up quickly. Tomorrow we will run it back through the press, and this second pressing – ciderkin – we will save for the kids; we’ll have some too, I’m sure!

While I worked on the pomace, Kim took my inefficiently-cut apple cores and reclaimed enough to make apple liqueur (for later addition to dry, carbonated cider). In the time I was making the ciderkin preparations, she was able to stuff three quart-size mason jars with apple trimmings. Each jar was also given a cup of sugar (before adding the apples, actually), and topped up with vodka to fill in all the space. Should be ready in a month…though my guess is the cider won’t be ready to be paired with it yet!

And with that we are both worn out. My hands are all dried out from working with apples, repeatedly washing my hands, etc. And I cut myself accidentally on the blades of Kim’s blender (used to crush the apples into a sauce before pressing). Didn’t even glide across the blade, just pressed into it, and it sliced me…

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