Category Archives: Apple Wine

If you start with apple juice, raise the sugar content to that of grape juice, and ferment you get apple wine. Use store bought juice for an easy-to-make dry white wine. Or grind and press fresh apples explore different varietals.

Your First Cider

I began thinking about apple cider last year, but this year I’m actually making some. I wanted to create an easy recipe so that most people could make their own cider, have fun doing it, and be proud of the result – a bit like the hard cider version of Leslie’s Apple Wine.

Ingredients: Apple juice and yeast

The juice can come from anywhere as long as it’s 100% apple juice with no preservatives. Advanced cider makers blend specific varietals to get just the right mix of acid, tannin, and sugar – not to mention flavor and aroma. For beginners I strongly recommend clarified, pasteurized juice. I’ll be using not-from-concentrate apple juice from Costco. From here you can just pour the juice into a fermenter and add yeast.

Wait! Don’t you have to measure the sugar and acidity? Aren’t they supposed to be within a certain range? Yes and yes, but if they were outside the broad targets for making cider, the juice wouldn’t taste very good (too flabby, too tart, too bland, etc …) so the manufacturer will be managing the sugar and acid of the commercial juice. Even though he won’t have cider in mind, you’ll probably be ok – I did say this was an easy recipe.

I really do encourage good measurements, though. Acidity should be between 3-5 g/L, as malic, or 3.4 – 5.6 g/L the way we usually measure wine (as tartaric). Specific gravity ought to be at least 1.045. If it’s not add sugar. For what it’s worth, I’ll be measuring.

Since the ingredient is just apple juice, the quantity is up to you. You want five gallons of cider? Use five gallons of juice. Have a small primary fermenter? Just use one gallon of juice. I’m using two gallons of juice and pouring it into a 3-gallon carboy – that will be my primary, and I’ll ferment it under an airlock. For each five gallons of juice, use one packet of yeast.

Best yeast for cider?

I think most yeast will work great – just keep in mind that each one has it’s own nutrient requirements, optimal temperature range, and alcohol tolerance. I usually recommend Red Star’s Premier Cuvee because it’s a reliable yeast that’s forgiving and gives good results. But I’m not taking my own advice this time.

I used to brew a lot of beer, and one yeast from my homebrewing days stands out: White Labs San Francisco Lager – it’s the only one I would pay up for. For this year’s cider, I’m using Wyeast California Lager (2112) a very similar (the same?) yeast that retains lager characteristics up to 65F. At $5/packet it’s not very economical, but it’s something I wanted to do – I’m hoping it’ll add something to the finished cider.


  1. Optional: Measure the specific gravity and titratable acidity of your juice. Adjust to SG 1.045 – 1.065 and TA 3.4 – 5.6 g/L as malic.
  2. Pour juice into primary fermenter.
  3. Add yeast.

If you want to make it more complicated, check out the “Variations” section, below.

Why not press your own juice?

Crushing and pressing apples yourself can be rewarding, and you’ll be able to control the blend that goes into your cider. If you know what you’re doing, you have the equipment, and you have access to high quality cider apples, you can make better cider this way. But if you’re new to cider making, it will just add an extra step – keep it simple when you’re starting out, get the basics right, then you can decide if the equipment and time are worth the cost.

And for small batches, the cost will be high. A combination apple grinder/press like the one pictured will cost about $750. A machine like that can be invaluable to a backyard grower, but not for someone just starting out making cider or someone who just wants to make a gallon or two.

Finally, buying clarified juice – juice that looks clear to the eye, not cloudy with sediment at the bottom – means you don’t have to worry about fining. In practical terms, it means your cider will be ready sooner with less work.


Cider can be sweet or dry – carbonated or still. Dry, still ciders are the easiest to make, but a lot of people, especially those who are new to cider, will prefer sweet and/or carbonated ciders. You can sweeten a still cider the same way you would a wine. You can carbonated a dry cider the same way you would a beer. Producing a sweet carbonated cider is tougher. You should get a few completed ciders under your belt before you try. But it can be done.

One approach is to carbonate a dry cider the way you would a beer, but disgorge the spent yeast as in the traditional method of Champagne production, and then, without spilling, add a syrup made with sugar, sulfite, and sorbate. Then quickly cap with a crown cap. I don’t have the space to cover this here, and it’s an advanced technique – don’t try it your first time!

So yes, you can make it as complicated as you like. But for your first cider, get some juice, add some yeast, and make cider!

Leslie’s Apple Wine – Bottled!

Leslie's Apple WineTen months ago I posted a simple recipe for apple wine, at the request of a reader:

I really want to try making apple wine. I know pretty much nothing about wine making. I know of a homebrew shop about 45 minutes from me. I need to know everything I will need to make a sweet apple wine, and I also need step-by-step instructions.

I created an easy recipe for Leslie on the fly. Now, it’s one thing to say that a recipe is easy to make, but how do you know until you try it yourself? That’s what I did, and I’m very happy with the result: an easy to make wine that was ready to bottle quickly and tastes good. What really jumped out at me from this experience was the importance of choosing between unfiltered and clarified juice.

Make wine fast with clarified juice

I’ve made a lot of apple wine, but this is the first time I used clarified juice. I would always buy unfiltered juice; it’s cloudy with a visible sediment at the bottom, and a lot of people (including me!) expect it to taste better than the bright clear juice that next to it on the grocery store shelf. To find out, I’d need to make two batches, as identical as I could except that one used clear juice and the other unfiltered, taste them blind and see. I haven’t done that, so I don’t know.

But I do know that if you want to make good wine quickly, the clarified juice wins hands down. I bottled bright clear wine ten months after pitching the yeast without fining. Doesn’t sound quick to you? It had been bulk aging for four months and hadn’t thrown sediment – not a hint, even after agitating. So I could have bottled four months earlier – that’s only five months after pitching the yeast.

Even accounting for delays or snafus, I’m confident I could bottle bright clear wine in six months every time. Faster with a fining regimen.

Be patient and take notes

Ready to bottle and ready to drink aren’t the same thing. It’s good now, but I’ve seen apple wine improve up to two years. So if you make this, try to spread it out. Drink some now, and open a bottle every few months. Take notes – even if you don’t think you have much to say. Was it smoother (harsher) than you remember? Is the aroma more or less pronounced? Or different in some other way? How about the color? Write it down! You’ll want to know this when you bottle your next batch.

Running the numbers

You’ll also want to know how the wine analyzed out. If you haven’t looked into the nitty gritty of calculating the alcohol content from specific gravity readings, you’ll be surprised at how complex and inexact it can be. I plugged in my original and final gravities into a number of online calculators, and got a range of 13.3% – 13.7%. I’ll save the discussion of just what goes into these calculations, and why different online calculators might not agree for another time. For now, I’ll just call it 13.5% alcohol. It had a final gravity of 0.994 and a TA of 6.5 g/L, as tartaric. pH was 3.5. On paper, it looks like a crisp, dry white.

How does the apple wine taste?

And that’s exactly what it tastes like. Apple wine can be fruity or neutral or anything in between. This one has good flavor, with a hint of apple, and a nice finish. I’ve tasted country wines that seemed watery, and others that were full bodied. This one was right in the middle with a just-right medium body. The aroma was muted and it had a refreshing acidity that wasn’t too tart.

About the label

A good wine deserves an attractive label, and for that you need good artwork. I struck gold when Courtney Bell agreed to let me use this image. The color scheme, the apples, and the first rate photography make it perfect on an apple wine label.

Since there isn’t a lot of room when it comes to the text, what you leave out is as important as what you put in. My labels usually have a header, “Apple Wine,” in this case. At the bottom goes a footer, and here I included my website url and a copyright notice from Courtney. Informational text includes the batch number, so I can refer to my notes, and some basic measurements.

What about your own labels? Think about wine that you’ve bought. Were you curious about something, but couldn’t find it on the label? Put that in yours. What about things that you glossed over? Don’t clutter up your label – leave those sorts of things out.

A great way to start

If you’re thinking about making wine, this recipe is a great way to start. By using clarified juice, you save a lot of steps like processing the fruit and fining the wine. That makes it an easy recipe that’s ready quickly. Another good choice is Welch’s Wine. So stop thinking about it and do it!

Apple Wine: Literary references

I like to make apple wine, and I’ve noticed it popping up in popular culture. Here’s a list of some references that I remember. Going forward, I’ll update this post with new apple wine appearances as I notice them. And ok, yes, I used to watch “Desperate Housewives.” There. I said it.

Desperate Housewives

Bree gets out of bed and goes downstairs to where Rex is sleeping on the couch. When she reaches him, she coughs politely and he rolls over, telling her that he’s up. She smiles and sits down on the edge of the pull out bed. “Good. I have a question for you.” He rolls his eyes, then pulls off the covers to sit next to her. “Okay.”

    Bree: “Do you remember when you proposed?”
    Rex: “For God’s sake.”
    “We sat on Skyline Drive and drank a bottle of apple wine and when we finished it, you turned to me and you said, ‘If you marry me, Bree Mason, I promise to love you for the rest of my life.’ And even though I was engaged to Ty Grant, and even though my father didn’t like you, I said yes.”
    “That was a long time ago.”
    “You are going to cancel the meeting with that divorce lawyer and we are going to find ourselves a marriage counselor.”
    “You promised.”

They look at each other.

    He nods. “All right.”
    “Good. I’m gonna go, uh, make myself some warm milk.” She gets up and walks to the kitchen, stopping halfway to turn around and look at him. “Would you like something to drink?” As he gets up from the bed, he mutters, “Anything but apple wine.”

~ Desperate Housewives – season one, episode 2: Ah, But Underneath

Assassin’s Apprentice

Prince Regal gives a gift of poisoned apple wine to Rurisk and tries to blame Fitz for the murder

~ Assassin’s Apprentice – The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1, by Robin Hobb

After the Sunset

00:11:14  A bottle of the apple wine was his prescription

~ After the Sunset (Movie: 2004)

Something to Talk About

00:54:46  What are you talking about? Have you gotten into the apple wine?

~ Something to Talk About (Movie: 1995)

Update 7/3/2011: One Thousand and One Nights

Often called The Arabian Nights, this collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories goes back centuries. In the tale of the Mock Caliph on the 288th night:

Quoth the sham Caliph, “I have drink other than this, a kind of apple-wine, that will suit thy companion.” So he bade them bring the cider which they did forthright

~ Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 4, translated by Richard Burton

Burton translated, “Sharáb al-tuffáh” in Arabic to “apple-wine” in 1885. His notes say it means melapio or cider. Does this mean that in the late 19th century, apple wine and cider were synonyms?

Update 7/23/2011: A Dance With Dragons

No one slept, not even Droopeye Dale, an oarsman who had been known to nap between strokes. Some of the men shared a skin of Galbart Glover’s apple wine, passing it from hand to hand. Those who had brought food shared it with those who had not.

~ A Dance with Dragons – A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5, by G. R. R. Martin

Any others?

Have you noticed apple wine in tv shows, movies, or books? Leave a comment and let me know!

Juicing Apples By Freeze – Thawing

Can you process apples at home without a lot of work or expensive equipment? That’s what I tried to find out when I sealed my small harvest in Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. They went in whole, no peeling, coring or chopping. I thawed them in sealed bags, treated with sulfite, and pressed them by hand (well, by sanitized spatula anyway).  I wrote about my plans last fall and my hopes of finding a quick cheap and easy way to process apples. Here I’ll talk about the results and the details of what I did and why.

No peeling, coring, or chopping

The first detail is that I froze the apples whole. That’s because I was dealing with about 8 lb (3700 g) of apples and I was looking for a method I could use on 20 or 30 lb – too many to chop, peel, or core.  They are ready to process as soon as they are frozen solid, but can be left in the freezer for a convenient time. When it came time to thaw, I opened the bags and treated them with sulfite.

Sulfite, pectic enzyme, and keep the air out

To guard against oxidation, I treated the apples with sulfite while they were still frozen. As a further precaution, I expelled most of the air by partially submerging the Ziploc bag – only the mouth of the bag was above water. They thawed like this, sulfited and with almost no air contact, overnight. The thawed apples were still whole, and the next morning I crushed them by hand (the apples stayed in the bags, so my hands never touched the fruit) and added pectic enzyme. I expelled the air as before and let the pectic enzyme work for about eight hours.

Pressing: Maybe I shouldn’t have used a spatula

That’s when I strained/pressed them in my three-bucket press. With only eight pounds of apples, I couldn’t use the press like I normally would. That’s because the buckets don’t fit together snugly and the small amount of apples fit in the gap between the buckets. Such a press is only effective with 30 lb or more fruit, so I used a sanitized spatula.

I ended up with 1320 ml of juice from my 3.7 kg of apples, which is only 36% juice yield. You can expect double that or more with a conventional crusher/press, and the yield is even lower if you consider only settled juice. I poured the 1320 ml of juice into a 2 liter cylinder and sealed it with an inverted sanitized Ziploc bag that I filled with water.

A DIY settling tank

I wanted to seal the 2 liter cylinder (these rock, by the way – I never knew how much I’d use one until I got it) with little or no air space. I didn’t have a stopper that would fit and it was only about 2/3 full anyway. Imagine in inflating a balloon inside the cylinder. As you inflate it, it presses against the top of the liquid and sides of the cylinder. With enough height, it should form a good seal. I used a Ziploc (sanitized then inverted so that the sanitized surface was in contact with the juice) filled with water instead of a balloon filled with air. At any rate, I siphoned off 1240 ml of clear settled juice the next day (using this, my yield is now only 34%):

SG: 1.048, pH: 3.2, TA: 7 g/L (tartaric).

Keep in mind that time spent thawing, straining, and settling is time that all sorts of microcritters can attack. Use sulfite (about 1 campden tablet or equivilent for every 6 lb/2.7 kg of fruit), minimize air contact, and be careful about cleanliness and sanitation.

A partial success

Oh, one thing I’m really patting myself on the back about is that the apples never browned – not even a little. In the past, I relied on sulfite to reverse the inevitable browning – this does work, but it’s better to prevent it altogether.

So how about my opening question? Well, I did process the apples without expensive equipment, but my juice yield was very low. What happened is that the freeze/thawing/hand crushing worked pretty well to crush the apples but I still needed a good way to press them. My sanitized spatula didn’t cut it. I think that means more fruit so I can use my 3-bucket press or building/buying a small press.

Easy Apple Wine Recipe: For Leslie

Over a year ago, Leslie asked me for an easy apple wine recipe with step by step instructions. My first reaction was surprise. She posed her request in a comment on one of my apple wine recipes. That one was pretty easy, wasn’t it? I combined some apples from my backyard with some store-bought juice. All I had to do was juice the apples, add that to the juice I already had, measure the specific gravity and the titratable acidity, figure out how much sugar and acid to add, and … oh. Ok, now I remember what it was like when I was first starting out. I went looking for an easy recipe that didn’t make me run tests or figure anything out. So I thought about it for a bit, scribbled down some things I remembered about apples and apple juice, ran some numbers through a calculator, and whipped up a recipe for her on the fly.

I never heard from her and I forgot about the whole thing until I saw some apple juice at Trader Joe’s the other day. I hadn’t made a new batch of wine in a while, so I grabbed it from the shelves on impulse – I was going to make apple wine! Then I remembered.

Since a lot of people miss the conversations in the comments, I decided to update it a little and make it a top level post.

Here is Leslie’s Apple Wine Recipe:

To each gallon apple juice add three cups boiled-then-cooled sugar syrup (dissolve 3 cups sugar in 1.5 cups boiling water), one teaspoon acid blend, one teaspoon pectic enzyme, and one crushed campden tablet (or equivalent). Sprinkle a packet of Red Star Premier Cuvee, or other wine yeast of your choice, over the must.

Stir daily. You should notice fermentation in a couple of days. Once it has fermented out (a week or two), transfer to airlocked glass jugs/carboys. Top with other wine, or if you have to, water so that there is no more than one inch of room between the stopper and the wine. In a month or two, you should notice sediment has fallen. Rack into a clean airlocked glass jug/carboy. Add a new crushed campden tablet (or equivalent) every other time your rack.

When the wine stops throwing sediment, it’s ready to bottle. If you want it sweet, stabilize and sweeten according to your taste. If you just don’t know how much to sweeten, start with 3 tablespoons sugar/gallon of wine.

Ingredients for one gallon

This scales up easily. Want to make five gallons? Multiply everything, except the yeast, by five. Three gallons? Multiply by three.

  • 1 Gallon Apple Juice
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 1.5 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Acid Blend
  • 1 Teaspoon Pectic Enzyme
  • 1 Packet Yeast

Equipment you will need:

A primary fermenter, this is what you put everything in at first. A food grade 2-gallon bucket with a lid (not air tight, just to keep the dust and bugs out) works great for 1-gallon of wine that is fermented on skins and/or pulp. An airlocked 3-gallon carboy does the job too, while protecting juice-only fermentation from air. A 6-Gallon Carboy is just the thing for larger batches up to five gallons.

Two secondary fermenters. These are usually glass jugs or carboys that you can close with an airlock. One-gallon jugs work great for 1-gallon of wine. Why two? So that you have a place to siphon your fermenting/aging wine into.

Extra glass bottles that you can close with airlocks (wine bottles, beer bottles, and so forth). You’ll need these for wine that doesn’t fit when you rack.

Racking cane and siphon hose. You should siphon the wine from one container to the next so that it doesn’t splash and pick up too much oxygen.

A Stirring Spoon. I like stainless steel because they’re easy to sanitize by boiling; 14″ is a good size for 1-gallon batches.

No preservative in the apple juice

It’s very important that the apple juice have no preservatives – look for “pasteurized” and “no preservatives” on the label. If you see “sorbate” or “benzoate” on the ingredients, don’t buy it. It’s not that these things will do you any harm, but they will prevent the yeast from doing their work.

How to subscribe to the comments

A lot people know they can subscribe to the posts and be kept up to date automatically. But some posts generate a lot of conversation in the comments – most of this goes unnoticed. You can stay in the loop, whether it’s a reply to your question, somebody else’s question, or something totally new, by subscribing to the comments.

Update 5/23/2011 – Easy Apple Wine Recipe Bottled!

This wine was easy to make. Everything went smoothly and I bottled ten months after pitching the yeast. Using clarified juice meant the wine dropped clear, without fining, very quickly. In fact, I could have bottled at six months. But looks aren’t everything; this crisp dry white has good flavor and I’m looking forward to seeing (and tasting!) how it ages.

Apple Cider

The Lady of the House and I visited Eaglemont Wine and Cider the other day. They make good wine, we bought a bottle of their red blend, but it was the cider that held my attention. We bought a bottle of that too, and it turned out to be just the thing for watching an old episode of Lost at the end of a stressful day – nice delicate aroma, good flavor, and not too much alcohol.

How to make apple cider

I liked it so much that it got me thinking about how to make apple cider. At it’s most basic, it’s just fermented apple juice. In principle, you could just obtain some juice (from the store, a roadside stand, grinding and pressing your own apples, or what have you) and pitch the yeast. Like most everything else, though, there are some details you should attend to. Make sure the juice has no preservatives (other than sulfite), the specific gravity of a clear sample is between 1.045 to 1.065 (add sugar if it’s too low), and the acidity is between 3-5 g/L as malic.

I normally measure acidity as though all the acid were tartaric, but the acidity in apples is almost all malic and cider makers often report TA as malic. To convert, multiply by 1.1193. That gives a range of 3.4 – 5.6 g/L, as tartaric.

You can use the Wine Recipe Wizard to help with additions. I’ve made wine from 1-gallon jugs of apple juice you see in grocery stores (Trader Joe’s sells them in glass jugs for less than home brew shops sell empty 1-gallon jugs) and that would be a great way to start making cider.

It’s a lot like apple wine, but with less alcohol. Like wine it can be sweet, dry, or anywhere in between. Cider is often carbonated, but it doesn’t have to be. Try it!

Apple cider, juice, and wine

There’s some confusion about the word, so let me tell you what I mean when I say “cider.” If you start with apples, grind them and press them you have apple juice. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s filtered, cloudy, pasteurized, or preserved – it’s still apple juice. If you take that juice and ferment it, you’ve got cider. If, on the other hand, you add sugar to bring the potential alcohol up to wine strength and ferment it, then you’ll get apple wine.

Further reading

Some good books and websites with more info on cider and how to make it:

Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider by Annie Proulx – yes, that Annie Proulx. Before she became famous she wrote this great book on cider!

Cider, Hard and Sweet by Ben Watson

Craft Cider Making by Adrew Lea – He learned about Cider from his time at the UK’s Long Ashton Research Station.

The Wittenham Hill Cider Pages – Andrew Lea’s cider website

Apple Wine: Processing the apples

Apple harvest has begun in my backyard, and that’s got me thinking about wine. I’ve made a lot of apple wine, and processed apples a lot of different ways. Blenders and juicers both work, but you have to chop all the apples and process them in batches. I can’t find the notes, but I remember using sugar extraction for one batch. The trouble with all of these methods is the chopping; it’s tedious and doesn’t scale well. What I’d really like is a way to process apples that’s quick, cheap, and easy.

So I’ve been on the lookout for other ideas, and that’s how I came across Luc Volders apple a day post. What I like about Mr Volders is that he doesn’t just take ideas at face value; he puts them to the test. In this post he rigorously compares several methods of juicing apples.

To me, freezing the whole apple offers a big payoff in convenience over the other methods and I think I’ll give that a try this year. He reported a 68% juice yield, which is slightly less than some of the other methods (70 – 74%). If I don’t have to chop all those apples, it’s a price well worth paying. I’ll probably modify his approach and freeze the apples without coring them, add pectic enzyme and sulfite as they are thawing and allow them to thaw without separating the free run juice. This way, the enzyme and sulfite can work on all the juice.

I’m excited about the new process, and I’ll write about how it works out. Right now, it’s time to pop the cork on one of last year’s bottles and hit the send button …

Update 9/14/2010 – A partial success

I got a 34-36% juice yield from 8 lb of apples, which is pretty low. This method is basically a way to crush apples without a crusher. They still need to be pressed to get a good yield and that’s where I need to do better. Building or buying a small press? Using more fruit so I can use my 3-bucket press? Maybe. Using a sanitized spatula again? Definitely not!

Apple Mead

I’ll often make a fruit mead the way you would make a second wine. I made a cherry mead like that last year, for example, and I’ll make an apple mead the same way. I saved the pulp from apples I juiced to make wine, put it in a ziplock bag, and froze it. That’s what I’ll use to make this mead.


Apple pulp
1 liter (about a quart) honey
4 liters (about a gallon) water
0.25 tsp tannin
1 tsp diammonium phosphate (DAP, a yeast nutrient)
2 tsp pectic enzyme
yeast from fermenting apple wine


Mixing one part honey to four parts water will, depending on measurement accuracy and water content of the honey, yield a 1.085 specific gravity must. In goes the tannin, DAP, and sulfite (all dissolved in a little water first). Then, straight from the freezer, add the pulp and let it defrost overnight. By morning the pulp had thawed out, and I added the pectic enzyme. I stirred it all up and it had the consistency of runny apple sauce. I added the yeast, in the form of fermenting apple wine, in the evening.

No specific gravity reading?

The pulp will contribute to the sugar and acidity of the must, but that sugar and acid is bound up in the solids. That makes it very difficult to measure, so I’m making up a honey-water mixture that would ferment to 11-12% alcohol by itself. The sugar in the pulp will increase that by a small amount, and I’ll just call it a 12+% alcohol level.

No titratable acidity reading either

Once the mead has fermented out, all the acid contributed by the pulp will be in the mead. That’s when I’ll take my measurement. I’ll have the same problem measuring the acidity here as I would in any mead, but I’ll take that into account as best I can and make the adjustment then.

In the meantime, I get to watch my little yeasties turn some applesauce-like goo into apple mead!

Update 10/5/08 – I strained out the pulp using the same three-bucket press that I used on my cherry mead. I didn’t use the third bucket, the one filled with water that does the actual pressing, here because there isn’t enough pulp for the pressing action to be effective. Instead, I used the bottom half of the press like a giant cheesecloth-lined colander with a catch bucket. I now have a little over 1.25 gallons of fermenting mead under an airlock.

Apple Wine 2008

Apple Harvest on 9/23/2008

Normally I use my own apples to supplement store bought juice in my apple wine, but this year I had more fruit available so I decided to make it exclusively from my own apples. I followed the same procedure as last year.


12.8 lb (5.8 kg) of roxbury russet, ashmead kernel, and liberty apples
0.25 tsp tannin
0.5 tsp Diammonium Phosphate (DAP, a yeast nutrient)
1 tsp pectic enzyme
Lavlin 71-B yeast from starter

Chop & juice the apples

I don’t have enough apples to justify an apple grinder, but I’ve got too many for a juicer. With no alternative, I used the juicer anyway, and it did the job. One downside to using the juicer is that you have to chop the apples to make them fit in the chute. Another is that you have to stop and clean out the filter frequently. The Lady of the House helped, and that made it a lot easier; she chopped, and I operated the juicer. In the end, the 12.8 lb of apples yielded 2.5 quarts (2.4 liters) of cloudy brown juice. I added sulfite at the beginning and pectic enzyme at the end.

Adjust the sugar and acid

Suspended solids made the juice brown and cloudy. They would also throw off the specific gravity (SG) reading by making the liquid more dense, so I ran about a cup (250 ml) through a coffee filter to get clear golden juice (this took almost an hour, and involved changing the coffee filter halfway through). In the meantime, I was calibrating my pH meter and setting up my new acid test contraption (I really need a clever name for that). I quickly measured the filtered sample:

SG: 1.046, pH: 3.08, titratable acidity (TA): 5.9 g/L, as tartaric

I’m using honey, like I did last year, to bring the SG up to 1.090. This equation determines how much honey to add:

VH = VI * (SGT – SGI) / (SGH – SGT)

VH is the volume of honey – that’s what I’m trying to find
VI is the initial volume – 2.4 liters
SGT is the target SG – 1.090
SGI is the initial SG – 1.046
SGH is the SG of honey – 1.417 (at 18% water)

so …

VH = 2.4L * (1.090 – 1.046) / (1.417 – 1.090) = 0.3L

Measuring HoneyTo measure out 0.3L (300 ml) of crystalized honey, I added 200 ml of apple juice to a measuring cup. Then I added scoops of honey until the liquid reached the 500 ml line. After some stirring and dissolving, I added it to the rest of the juice then measured another filtered sample – SG 1.090 on the nose!

With the TA at about 6 g/L, I decided not to adjust the acid until it ferments out.

Turn it over to the yeast

After that it was as simple as adding the DAP and tannin, dissolving them in a little water first, then pitching the yeast. It’s been several months since I made wine, and its good to be back. I’m excited to see how my first “estate bottled” apple wine turns out, and I’ll be sure to post updates.

Apple wine from store-bought juice: less work, easy cleanup

Would you rather have someone else juice the apples? Someone with efficient, state-of-the-art equipment? And while he was at it, clean up afterwards? Buy store-bought juice. Then use the recipe I made for Leslie to make apple wine with less work and easy cleanup!

Titratable Acidity: Mystery, Consistency, and too much acid

Cherry Mead: The case of the disappearing acid

Suppose you measure 6 g/L titratable acidity (TA), then add about 1.3 g/L of tartaric acid. After you let it sit for a while you’d expect a TA over 7, right? Me too. You certainly wouldn’t expect just a little over 5 (call it 5.2), would you? I didn’t either, but that’s what happened and that wasn’t the end of it. I’m talking about my cherry mead and after that 5.2 measurement, I added another 1.3 g/L of tartaric acid. When I checked again the TA stood at just over 5.5 g/L, not the 6.5 I was expecting. Over the course of six months, my starting TA fell from 6 g/L to 5.5 g/L as I added 2.6 g/L.

What happened? I don’t know, but a look at pH tells me that the additional acid was affecting the mead, even if I wasn’t detecting it in my titrations. While TA went from 6 to 5.2 to 5.5, the pH went from 3.56 to 3.39 to 3.13. I’m going to have to chew on this for a while. Got any theories? I’d love to hear them.

Honey Apple: Promising, but not ready yet

Compared with my cherry mead, the honey apple is a model of consistency. Yesterday’s measurements:

SG: 0.996, pH: 3.56, TA: 7 g/L

were exactly the same as on 11/15/07. This is reassuring and gives me a (false?) sense of precision. It’s not ready to drink yet; tasting it all I could think of was “tart and young.” The Lady of the House would only say that, yes, it was an apple wine or mead but refused to offer anything more. It’s clear with compact sediment, and the numbers look good, so I think I’ll rack without making any adjustments.

Tomato Wine: Young, tart, and bone dry

It tastes just as harsh as you’d expect it to from these numbers:

SG: 0.990, pH: 2.97, TA: 9- g/L

In addition to being tart, there is an unusual flavor that I wouldn’t recognize if I didn’t know I was drinking tomato wine. I’m not sure whether I like this tomato flavor or not – its hard to get past the harshness of this wine. The Lady of the House knew it was the tomato wine, even though I didn’t tell her. She made a face and said it was young and that there was “an acid thing” going on. This one needs some more time, and I need to neutralize some of the acid.

So, I’ve got a mystery to solve, some acid to neutralize, and some mead to rack. Time to hit the “save” button.