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Day 147 Bottling Fermented Ginger Beer, Picking Crab Apples, Wine & Cider Updates

 

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

This little project has been a real pain in the butt! From the heating pad to off the heating pad. From adding Champagne yeast to moving it on the heating pad and overheating it and killing the yeast to pitching more yeast…yadda, yadda, yadda. And the SG doesn’t make sense…it’s went from 1.061 to 1.030 to 1.34 to 1.036…and then it reads 1.022 and starts floating up, slowly,  to 1.036. I even tried my back up hydrometer and it did the same. I’m tired of screwing around with it. I decided to bottle it and be done with it. My best guess is that the ABV is around 3.0 to 3.25%, but who knows?! Tomorrow night I’ll check the carb and pasteurize the bottles if they are ready. The gallon yielded 10 bottles and I may have to sacrifice one for the carb check.  Whew!

The wine continues to chug along very regularly. I opened the lid and stirred down the bag of crushed grapes. There was lots of sparkly effervescence and the color is a bright red, but not a deep, dark color and certainly not clear. It appears to be right on track, though.

Stirring the wine...snap, crackle, pop!

Stirring the wine…snap, crackle, pop!

My neighbor that has the remaining crab apple tree called and told me to come pick some more today, because they are having them pruned tomorrow and the ones that are easy to reach now will be gone. So I took a 5 gallon bucket over and almost filled it. Based on yesterday’s 2 gallon bucket weighing almost 13 pounds, I’m guesstimating that I have around 30 pounds…quite possibly more.

Big bucket o'crabs!

Big bucket o’crabs!

Maybe I’ll get around to weighing them tomorrow. I may need to find a more efficient way to extract the juice…my little countertop extractor can only handle so much.

As for the batch of cider already underway…

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

…I’m waiting for the Edinburgh Ale Yeast starter to be ready. I stuck it in the refrigerator tonight and should be able to pour off the DME “wort” and pitch it in the morning. I’ll get the OG before adding the yeast, throw in some cinnamon and cloves…maybe a little molasses, if it can stand it. Pink Cripps and Crab Apples. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

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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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