A Very Ancient Craft
Many good brands of cider are available everywhere and occasionally one can find vintage cider and even cask cider which is a superb drink in the right circumstances. If you like cider you may be tempted to make some yourself, and the following notes will help you.
Should you live in the West of England you may be able to get hold of real cider apples. There are many varieties, and by themselves they are almost inedible. Some are very bitter, containing much tannin, some very sour containing much acid, and some very sweet. Cider makers always use a blend of apples and you should try to get some of each kind. If you can't get real cider apples use some crab apples, some sour cooking apples and some sweet eating apples. You will need at least 12 Ib. of apples to make a gallon of cider and the more soft and mellow they are the better, although they must not be bad.
Wash off any leaves and dirt and place the apples a few at a time in a plastic bag and crush them thoroughly with a mallet. Put the apples as soon as they are crushed into another plastic bag together with three or four crushed Campden tablets and a teaspoonful of Pectozyme. By this time the apple juice should be flowing and should be strained off and checked fox sugar content by means of an hydro meter. One teaspoonful of granulated yeast or better still a fermenting champagne yeast is now stirred into the juice. An air lock must immediately be put into the jar to keep out dirt and germs.
The rest of the apples must be pressed and squeezed until every last drop of juice is extracted, the juice being added to the fermentation jar as it becomes available. The reason for this is to prevent oxidising the cider through browning the apples or juice In the open air. The Campden tablets will help to prevent this and the yeast will start working as soon as the sulphur dioxide has cleared.
If you possibly can, do use a press, either your own or one that you have borrowed. If you have a juice extractor, so much, the better and use that instead, hut extract all the juice and start it fermenting as quickly as possible. Cider should start fermenting with an initial gravity of 1.070, so if your apples are not quite sweet enough add some sugar. A quick rule-of-thumb measurement is 1 oz. of sugar raises the gravity in a gallon of must by two degrees, B Ib. of sugar then will raise the S.G. of apple juice from, say, 1.054 to 1.070. As the apples will vary widely in sweetness, no guide can be given as to how much sugar to add. You must check the juice with an hydrometer and add sugar as may be necessary.
The teaspoonful of Pectozyme will be most helpful in clearing the cider from an excess of pectin which might otherwise cause a haze.
When fermentation has ceased rack the cider into a clean jar in which a crushed Campden tablet has already been dropped. This will again prevent the cider from oxidising, which it dues very readily. After another six weeks the cider should be clear and may he bottled. If you want a still cider sack it into ordinary bottles and cork it. If you want a sparkling cider add a small teaspoonful of sugar per pint, use a screw-stoppered bottle and mature for six weeks. Cider is generally ready after three or four months and because it is low in alcohol does not usually keep much beyond nine or ten months.