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Day 161 Bottling Caramel Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider…this little batch is going to be my best flavored cider ever. It will be still, rather than sparkling. I bottled 12 bottles from a gallon carboy plus a 22 oz bomber that have both been sitting in tertiary for a while to clear.

I racked the two containers both into a 2 gallon bucket, to combine and then racked from there into bottles.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

The color is beautiful and clear amber. The taste is smooth and sweet, but not cloying. This batch was made with a combination of Pink Cripps apples and crab apples with a little molasses, a couple sticks of cinnamon and several cloves. The OG was 1.102 and the FG is 1.014, and the ABV is 11.55%. I look forward to seeing what this little batch tastes like in a couple of months…I may even hold back a couple of bottles until this time next year! With the high ABV and being so smooth already, this could be a dangerous drink!

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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 156 Final Racking for Caramel Apple Cider (Probably)

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

This is what will probably be the last racking for the crab apple/Pink Cripps apple cider that I have decided to call Caramel Apple Cider, due to the small addition of molasses and a cinnamon stick. It’s nice and clear now and I think I’ve managed to leave the rest of the small amount of sediment behind.

I had hoped to bump up the volume to 1-1/2 gallons, by boiling, cooling and adding 800 ml of water. There’s plenty of alcohol and I just don’t want to lose anymore volume.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

I transferred the cider, by siphon, to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, racking off of the sediment and trying to minimize oxygenation. I added the boiled water, cleaned my containers and refilled them.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to fill the half gallon; so I wound up with the volume I started with, minus the sediment, plus enough for a hydrometer check and a nice sample for evaluation!

I measured the SG at 1.013, down from an OG of 1.102…even after the small water addition. That makes the ABV 11.68%. Incredibly, the aroma is fresh apple juice. The flavor is deceptively smooth and sweet, with a nice touch of caramel. The finish is a tummy warmer, though! Really, very nice.

Look at that color!

Look at that color!

I have been trying to carb all of my ciders so far, but the ABV on this one has probably already overwhelmed the Edinburgh Ale Yeast and I don’t think carbonation would be an improvement in this case. I did have enough to fill a test bottle. The cider should be good for a couple of months, but I’ll check the tester in a couple of weeks.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Soon, it will be time to do the “final” racking for bulk aging on the muscadine wine and rack the crab apple/pear/Cripps apple cider to secondary.  And finally, my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale should be ready for secondary sometime next week. So many good things going on and they all take so much time!  The pumpkin ale should be ready before Halloween and should be good (maybe better) at Thanksgiving.

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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 150 Woo hoo!!! Racking Cider and Muscadine Wine to Secondary

2-1/2 gallons Muscadine Wine

2-1/2 gallons Muscadine Wine

1-1/2 gallons Crab Apple & Pink Cripps Cider.

1-1/2 gallons Crab Apple & Pink Cripps Cider.

 

Moved my Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider and Muscadine Wine to secondary today. I got good hydrometer samples from both. The cider is down to 1-1/2 gallons and the wine is down to 2-1/2 gallons.

The cider is quite tasty! The molasses, cinnamon and cloves did a good job adding flavor, without being overpowering.

Ready to rack the cider to secondary.

Ready to rack the cider to secondary.

The color is as expected. The current SG is down to 1.055, down from OG 1.102, leaving a current 6.17% ABV.The wine is a little lighter in color than I expected. I guess it will wind up more of a blush than a red.

Blush color of the muscadine wine.

Blush color of the muscadine wine.

Anyway, the unique muscadine aroma is still evident. The flavor is definitely young wine, lots of alcohol, a little fresh grape, a bit less sweet than anticipated…which is okay. the current SG looks like 0.993 for a 15.23% ABV…yeehaw! I would not want to drink this right away; however, I think I sense the future potential for this wine…2 or 3 years from now. *sigh*

Spent grapes...ready for compost. I hope fermented seeds don't germinate.

Spent grapes…ready for compost. I hope fermented seeds don’t germinate.

 

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Day 149 Spent Grain Muffin Loaves, Muscadine Wine & Cider Still Going

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

I had a small bag of spent grain left from my most recent batch of dog treats, so I found a recipe for banana & peanut butter muffins and gave it a try. I have some mini loaf pans and I decided to use them, instead of muffin tins.  Here’s the recipe:

Banana Peanut Butter Spent Grain Muffins
Adapted by Chef Lisa at http://cheflisa.lisahartjes.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-spent-grain-muffins/

from: Eat Me, Delicious (http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-oatmeal-muffins.html)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups spent grains
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2 med.)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup light buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, spent grains, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, brown sugar, eggs, mashed banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until very smooth, making sure all egg has been well-incorporated. Pour into flour mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain.

Wet ingredients

Wet ingredients

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin, filling each just about up to the top.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove muffins from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12.

So, I got 5 mini loaf pans, filled about 2/3, using a #12 disher (most commonly referred to as an ice cream scoop). Two scoops puts about 5-1/2 to 6 oz per pan.

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Banging the pans flat on the counter a few times levels out the top. I placed the pans on a sheet pan and baked in the middle of the oven for about 28 minutes and they tested done. I let them cool awhile and then removed the loaves from the pans and finished cooling on a wire rack.

Cooling on a wire rack

Cooling on a wire rack

Well…one didn’t make it to room temperature! I get the peanut butter and banana…and I like it. The wife probably won’t get past the fact that the grains were used to make beer and dog treats…more for me!

Mmm...warm quick bread with spent grains, peanut butter and bananas.

Mmm…warm quick bread with spent grains, peanut butter and bananas.

Quick update on the crab apple & pink cripps cider and the muscadine wine: they are both slowing down in activity, but still going. I opened the wine bucket and stirred down the bag. Again, a small sample from the spoon is sweet, but less so than it was…definitely young muscadine wine! They both probably have another couple of days until their first racking and the bag of crushed grapes will be squeezed out and removed.

Muscadine Wine...gettin' there!

Muscadine Wine…gettin’ there!

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