FROM JUICE TO CIDER
I’ve made my juice, now what do I do when I get home?
Place your containers in a cool place when you get home, a garage or garden shed is ideal. We will have made a hole in the lid so you now need to fit the airlock, fill it half-full with water, and then wait…..! After a couple of days you will start to hear some bubbling as the yeasts present in the fruit convert the sugars to alcohol. It will happily bubble away for the next couple of months.
If after a few days your fermentation hasn’t started, try bringing the containers inside for a further few days. The increase in temperature should be sufficient to get things going before you return the containers to a cool place. If this still fails – I suggest you add some wine yeast to kick-start the fermentation.
The fermentation starts quickly as the yeasts start to grow. The fermentation is temperature dependent so expect the rate to fluctuate with outside temperature. Typically in December, depending on the weather, you would expect the fermentation, and therefore bubbling, to have pretty much ceased. It is this time we advise you to siphon or "rack off" the cider into a clean sterilised container.
You will need a length of plastic tubing - you can get this from a home brew shop. You will also need to sterilise the container and tube with Sodium Metabisulphite (again from home-brew shops) and rinse them well. If you don't have a spare 25L container and need to re-use the current one, then syphon the cider into any available containers eg demi-johns, clean the 25L container and re-fill from the demi-johns. To rack-off you need to carefully raise the 25L container onto a bench so that the bottom of the container is higher than the top of the second container into which you are transferring it. A “mat” of yeast sometimes forms on the top of the juice. Carefully remove this first to ensure it doesn’t get stuck in the tube. Try not to disturb the bottom sediment. Insert the tube 3/4 of the way into the container. Suck on the other end and when the juice flows put this end into the second container/ demi-john. The aim is to syphon the liquid leaving the settled sediment at the bottom of the first container.
As the spring temperatures rises, so a secondary fermentation will take place - the malo-lactic fermentation - whereby the acidity of the cider is halved and further carbon dioxide is released. The carbon dioxide from this secondary fermentation gives a slight sparking effect when you drink it.
This fermentation will slow around April/May time when you can further syphon the juice into demi-johns and start drinking.
Note you may still have some activity left so you need to keep an eye out for bungs blown from the demi-john. Don't store underneath a glass ceiling!
If you need further advice or have any concerns, please do get in touch