Apple Cider Update

Reader Contribution by Laura Damron
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For whatever reason, I’m having one of those spells where I can’t seem to settle on something to write about. It’s not for lack of ideas; I have a lot of things percolating around in my head. I hate to admit it, but I think I just need a break for a few days. Alex and I are heading out of town in the near future, going up and over the mountains to a friend’s tiny cabin in north-central Washington. There’s no power, running water, cell phones or Internet service … we will be 100-percent unplugged for a few days. I really can’t wait.

So, to tide you over until I return refreshed and re-energized, I thought I’d give you a quick update on the hard cider. We’re almost ready for bottling – I’ll be doing that before the end of the month. About two weeks ago, I racked off the cider and rebottled it into 1-gallon jugs with airlocks for their secondary ferment/resting period. We did see a little additional fermentation in the jugs, which was expected – some of the yeast that had settled out of suspension was stirred back up in the process and was able to use up the last of the residual sugars in the brew.

Being curious, I had to taste a sample before locking everything up for its little nap. I didn’t expect much at all; I’d read that hard cider at this stage is dry and harsh. Well, somehow, ours isn’t. It certainly isn’t sweet, but it wasn’t unpleasantly dry or bitter at all. It was still distinctly apple, with a little bit of a yeasty taste that reminded me of a really light beer.

I will be back-sweetening the cider a little bit, before we bottle, but I am really impressed with the flavor thus far. We’ll probably use sucralose as our sweetener, because that’s not digestible by yeast and won’t over carbonate the bottles like honey or sugar would do. Although we will be adding a small amount of sugar in solution across the batch, as I do like my cider with some carbonation, as opposed to a flat or “still” cider.

As long as I get my bottling done next week on schedule, the final product should be ready to drink come Thanksgiving. I’m really looking forward to sharing our finished home brew with our family and friends around the dinner table. Stay tuned for photos of bottling day!

What about you? How are your fall ferments coming along?

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