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Tropical Fruit Cider/Mead?

I had some fruit that I needed to use before it was no longer suitable for anything but compost. I bought a couple of star fruits (carombola) and a mango on markdown at the grocery store and I had a couple of pears that were getting overripe. Also on hand were 3 large apples…Gala, I think. Might have been Fuji. I ran all the fruit through my juicer and added the juice of about 1/2 a lime and a dribble of bottled lemon juice, just to keep it all from turning brown. This all equalled about a half gallon of pretty thick juice. So, I added enough water to bring the volume up to a little over a gallon and the SG reading on the refractometer was about 1.022. To bump that up, I added about 12 oz honey mixed with hot water to dissolve. That brought the SG up to about 1.052. I finally settled for an OG of 1.073 after adding 2 cups of white sugar.

I’m in kind of a gray area between cider and melomel (fruit mead). The mix of honey and sugar, plus the relatively low alcohol potential, probably pushes it more toward cider. I also added 1/2 tsp  of pectic enzyme, 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient, and 1 crushed campden tablet. This will sit for 24 hours and then I’ll have to decide what yeast to pitch. Need to think about that one.  The final starting volume looks like approximately 1-1/3 gallons. I’m assuming that I’ll wind up bottling a little under a gallon when finished. I didn’t take any pictures yet…just jumped into it. I’ll snap some tomorrow when I pitch the yeast.

24 hours after adding nutrient, pectic enzyme and Campden tablet.

24 hours after adding nutrient, pectic enzyme and Campden tablet.

Update: Looked over the available yeast at the local home brew shop and decided to try a yeast made by Vintner’s Harvest, simply called Premium Wine Yeast CY17.

C17 Premium Wine Yeast

CY17 Premium Wine Yeast

It says “For full bodied, rich fruity aromatic white/blush and dessert wines. Excellent strain for white country fruit & flower wines.” It does say that it is a slow fermenter, but I’m in no rush. Pitched the yeast early this afternoon…no sign of airlock activity as of 7:45 pm.

6:40 pm  Earlier today, I noticed a slow bubble action in the airlock. This yeast is said to be a slow fermentor…I guess so. It’s definitely not taking off with a rhino fart aggressiveness…but it’s going!

2/10/15 Airlock action seems to have stopped after about 7 days…in fact, may have ceased a day or two ago. There’s no rush, but when I get around to it, I’m going to do the first racking.

 

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Day 160 Racking Crab Apple/Pear/Cripps/Ginger Gold Cider for Long Term and Pumpkin Ale

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I needed to free up a fermentation bucket, and the cider that I made from crab apples, pears, Pink Cripps and Ginger Gold apples looked pretty clear, so that’s the one I decided to deal with. I racked from the 5 gallon glass carboy into a bottling bucket. From there, I racked to four 1/2 gallon glass carboys, filled to leave as little head space as possible, and capped. These containers were moved to an out of the way dark corner for bulk conditioning/aging.

I wasn’t too aggressive in getting every last drop, since I knew I was nowhere near having enough to fill another container. As a result, I got a good hydrometer sample and a little drinking glass sample. After I took and SG reading, both samples went into the refrigerator for additional tasting later. The immediate taste at room temperature pleasantly seems to have eased up on the tannin astringency that I tasted last time I was able to try a sample. It still needs some time, but it’s pretty nice. It also packs a wallop! The OG for this batch was 1.097 and it is currently at 0.993, which I’m confident will be the FG. That puts the cider at 13.65% ABV! Whew!

I also racked my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale to the big glass carboy for some final clearing and making sure it’s absolutely finished fermenting before I bottle it.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale.

I have still seen a bubble in the airlock up until recently and I don’t want to rush it. I really want to nail the carb on this beer. If I do, I think it’s going to be phenomenal! The body if full, the aroma is awesome, the spice is well blended and not overpowering. Love the color…it does, as my son suggested when he smelled it, remind me of a ginger snap cookie, but not as sweet.

Sample for checking SG with a hydrometer. (And for tasting!)

Sample for checking SG with a hydrometer. (And for tasting!)

The ABV is 7.74% and my volume is only 4 gallons. This may horrify some homebrewers, but I would rather sacrifice a tiny amount of alcohol by volume and have 5 gallons, instead of 4, so I added a gallon of bottled Culligan water. I’m having samples of the cider and the ale as I write this and I’m very happy…and have a nice little warm feeling. >grin<

Samples: Pumpkin left, cider right.

Samples: Pumpkin left, cider right.

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Day 155 SG Check on Samhain Ale

Yesterday, I could see that the activity in the blow-off tube had slowed way down…in fact, it had slowed the day before. I decided to remove the blow-off tube and install an airlock. (And took a quick photo.)

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Last night and today, I haven’t seen any activity. I’m not convinced that it has finished fermenting yet, though, so I took a SG reading and it’s at 1.031 (corrected from 1.030 @ 74.3F). According to the recipe, it should make it to 1.023 to finish, so I’ll let it keep going. It’s only been 4 days since brewing. I don’t need to be terribly concerned with fermentation being quite done in primary, however, because it will go into secondary with more pumpkin, spice, and a vanilla bean (soaked in vodka). The sugar in the pumpkin could cause a little more fermentation, so I’m planning on giving it plenty of time. Then, I’ll probably do a tertiary for final clearing.

The hydrometer sample has gone into the refrigerator for a look at how it clears, color and flavor…later, but a small taste yielded a very nice flavor that I am quite pleased with, so far.

Hydrometer sample...nice color.

Hydrometer sample…nice color.

My ciders and muscadine wine continue to condition. The crab apple/pear/Cripps blend actually still has some airlock activity in primary, so another week? Probably.

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Day 153 Racking Caramel Cider and Muscadine Wine

Keep on racking! Muscadine wine.

Keep on racking! Muscadine wine.

Racking day! I decided to rack the caramel cider and muscadine wine again today. I had to spend some time cleaning the kitchen, assembling vessels and utensils, making a new batch of sanitizer, etc.

I started with boiling some water in my starter beaker for 10 minutes, in case I needed to top off anything. Covered it and put it in an ice bath. Then I racked the cider. I completely filled a gallon, but the half gallon went down considerably. I didn’t want to top off that much with water, so I sanitized a 22 oz bottle and filled it. I used what was left to fill a tester bottle  to see what it does for carbing. Just an experiment…I want the rest to clear quite a bit more and maybe just condition awhile. The SG is 1.020 at this point and, overall, it’s looking good.

Cider in a 1-gallon glass carboy, a 22 oz beer bottle and a little carb tester experiment. Wine on right. Crab apple, pear and apple blend cider in the middle.

Cider in a 1-gallon glass carboy, a 22 oz beer bottle and a little carb tester experiment. Wine on right. Crab apple, pear and apple blend cider in the middle.

For the muscadine wine, the clarity is looking quite good and the color is pretty. I racked to two 1-gallon carboys and about 2/3  filled a half gallon carboy.

Racking to all glass containers.

Racking to all glass containers.

I did go ahead and add some water to this one from the beaker that I boiled. I figure this will work out okay when I combine it back with the two gallons for bottling. In the meantime, I can bulk condition the wine without fear of oxidation…or at least the risk is greatly reduced. I think the wine is done fermenting. It’s got an SG reading at 0.990, which is about where it was when I racked it last time, I believe.

The more recent cider, a blend of crab apples, pears, Ginger Crisp apples and Pink Cripps apples just had yeast pitched last night. Airlock activity is continuing to slowly build this afternoon.

I’ve had a little sample glass of the muscadine wine in the refrigerator for the last few days, following the previous racking and I’m sipping on it as I’m writing this.

Muscadine wine sample.

Muscadine wine sample.

It’s really quite good…obviously young, but not too sweet. A little tannin on the tongue. It’s not as muscadine-y as I thought it would be. I think it actually has a better “real” wine flavor to it. It’s not heavy. We could probably easily drink a bottle of this next Spring or Summer. We’ll see. I’m planning on hanging on to most of it until maybe around Thanksgiving 2016.

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Day 152 Started Another Batch of Cider

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs. Gotta use 'em!

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs. Gotta use ’em!

Realizing that I have a bunch of foraged crab apples left to use and the clock is ticking, I started another batch of cider today. I started with the juice from about 5 lbs of crab apples and then added juice from 5 pears, 3 Ginger Crisp apples and 4 Pink Cripps apples and a little bottled lemon juice to keep the apple and pear juices from browning too much. Altogether, I got about 3/4 gallon of juices.

Blend of juices from crab apple, pear, Pink Cripps apples and Ginger Gold apples

Blend of juices from crab apple, pear, Pink Cripps apples and Ginger Gold apples

I put that juice into a 5 gallon bottling bucket with the pommace from the crab apples, tied in a cheesecloth bag. I didn’t have enough cheesecloth on hand to fit the apple/pear pommace in, but that’s okay.

Juice, water, sugar, cinnamon, yeast nutrient, campden tablets and pectic enzyme.

Juice, water, sugar, cinnamon, yeast nutrient, campden tablets and pectic enzyme.

I stirred in 5 lbs of sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient, 2 crushed campden tablets and a 1/2 teaspoon of pectic enzyme. Then I added a gallon plus 6 cups of water and stirred. It was so close to 3 gallons that I decided to top up…just a couple of extra cups. I checked the SG and it’s around 1.110-ish. I’ll get the official OG tomorrow, before I pitch yeast. Sometimes the sugar isn’t completely dissolved at this point and the reading could be off. I sealed the bucket and set it aside.

My next step was to begin a yeast starter from my harvested Edinburgh yeast.

making starter wort for yeast.

making starter wort for yeast.

I boiled a 1.040 wort for 10 minutes made from light DME and chilled it to about 77 F.

Chilling the starter.

Chilling the starter.

I then added about half of the contents of my 1/2 pint jar of yeast slurry to the starter. I’m out of yeast nutrient, so I hope the yeast is healthy enough without it! I’ll see where the progress on the yeast starter is tomorrow morning.

Ready to build that yeast!

Ready to build that yeast!

Update: 9/8/14   Cold crashed the yeast starter early this evening. About 9 pm, I drained off the excess liquid, opened the lid on the cider, removed and squeezed the cider out of the cheesecloth bag of pommace  and drew off a hydrometer sample. The OG is 1.096 at 72.9 F, so corrected =1.097. I pitched the Edinburgh Ale yeast, stirred and resealed the lid. I refrigerated the hydrometer sample to sip later. Very sweet, as expected. As of midnight, no visual on airlock activity. I will check it in the morning. Pretty sure it will be rockin’ soon. Starter was vigorous, as was the batch I harvested it from.

Update: 9/9/14   Airlock bubbles in latest cider batch at 10 a.m. Not very aggressive yet, but it’s going. By the way, tasting the hydrometer sample that I had chilled leads me to believe that this is going to be a nice clean, crisp cider after the sugar is converted.

Refrigerated cider blend OG sample. Clean and bright! 1.096

Refrigerated cider blend OG sample. Clean and bright! 1.097

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Day 146 First Cider of the Season

 

Crabby Cripps Cider. Ready to seal for 24 hours, then pitch yeast. Floater is cheesecloth bag of pulp.

Crabby Cripps Cider. Ready to seal for 24 hours, then pitch yeast. Floater is cheesecloth bag of pulp.

My neighbor, who still has a crab apple tree, said I could have as many crab apples as I wanted. So, today I filled a two gallon fermentation bucket pretty quickly. When I got home, I measured the weight and it came out to 12 pounds and over 15 ounces…so, a few crab apples short of 13 pounds.  Referring back to Day 1, I weighed out 4-1/2 lbs  of crab apples.

Crab apples...still have more than enough for a batch of jelly!

Crab apples…still have more than enough for a batch of jelly!

Knowing now that crab apples, by themselves, produce a plain, dry and sharp cider, I am adding 2 lbs 12 oz of Cripps Pink apples. Each of the weights produced about 4 cups of juice from each type of apples. Obviously, bigger apples yield more juice per pound. I used the same little countertop juicer that I used last year. It’s struggling, but still getting the job done. I used a couple of caps full of bottled lemon juice to reduce browning of the juice.

Once I had my juice, I filtered it through cheesecloth and I added it to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket. I made a bag out of the cheesecloth and put the pulp from the juicer into it, tied it closed and dropped it in the bucket, as well. Next, I added a gallon of water, 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient, 1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme and 2 crushed campden tablets and stirred. Finally, I added 3-1/2 lbs of white sugar and stirred again. I popped on a lid and an airlock and it’s good to go for 24 hours…so, about 1:30 tomorrow afternoon. At that point, I’ll check the SG and add more sugar, if necessary. I may try molasses or raw sugar, if needed. The goal is around 1.090 or a little higher. I may also throw in a couple of sticks of cinnamon and a few cloves.

Update on Muscadine Wine: Airlock was slow to build, but it’s chugging along pretty well now. Supposed to stir every day while the fruit is in the bucket. The bag was floating on top.

Stirring the wine...nice color!

Stirring the wine…nice color!

Crushed grape in the bag...floating on top.

Crushed grape in the bag…floating on top.

 

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Day 88 Bottling Murray’s Super Easy Cider, 1/2 gallon

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

After returning from a vacation, my Murray’s Super Easy Cider is ready to bottle. I don’t want to waste any by checking the FG…just have to guess. But it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t have a helper and starting the siphon was a pain in the butt and stirred up a small amount of lees…not too bad though. I got five 12 oz bottles out of the little 1/2 gallon batch.

Lees on the bottom, after siphoning cider into bottles.

Lees on the bottom, after siphoning cider into bottles.

A little ring in the neck, them fairly clear. Layer of lees on the bottom.

A little ring in the neck, them fairly clear. Layer of lees on the bottom.

It’s getting a little late in the day to bottle my Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout tonight. I’ll do it soon though…tomorrow or this weekend. I would like to do my first all-grain Brew in a Bag (BIAB), but I’m not sure if I’ll have time this weekend. We’ll see.

Meeting my brew-buddy to deliver some goodies she wanted, that I picked up while on vacation.

Swag!

Swag!

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Of course I picked up some for myself as well! The highlight and big deal is Nugget Nectar from Troeg…along with a few other bottles. Also a few bottles from Appalachian and Lancaster Brewing Companies.

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