Tis the Season for Organic Hard Cider

Hey, it’s Fall, and how better to ring in the new season (short as it is) than make some hard cider?

So Saturday found me using one of these to help press 8 or 9 bushels of organic apples into delicious, juicy cider.  We had a great operation going with two people washing and cleaning the apples, and two working the cider press.  Lo and behold, sure enough, out came 20 gallons of liquid gold.  For my toils I took home 5 gallons, which I promptly pasteurized at 170F for 30 minutes, cooled, and pitched.

While I’ve brewed a bunch of beer in my time, cider is all new to me.  Research indicates that I want to reduce spoilage potential by charging up my initial 1.046 OG.  So I added 10oz of corn sugar and 1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, for a final OG of 1.056.

Next, since the sugars in cider are much simpler than wort, we expect the cider to ferment out completely, yielding a very dry end product.  There are ways to stop yeast activity (chemical bombing, cold-crashing, bottle pasteurization) but they all seem either not-organic, require fridge space, or involve shards of glass.  So my hail-Mary pass is to use WLP002 yeast, which is known to (a) attenuate badly and (b) dislike alcohol.  Hopefully it’ll drop early and leave some residual sugar around so I don’t end up with apple-flavored rocket fuel.

It’s now at 68F in my fermentation chamber, where it’ll stay for a couple weeks, then get bottled with some priming sugar and sit around for another few weeks.  Then bottoms up!