Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backyard

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twistandstout
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Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backyard

Post #1 by twistandstout » 2 years ago

I have an apple tree in my backyard. I don't really know what kind of apples they are. They've been falling off the tree for quite some time now and are starting to blush slightly. There's a bit of red appearing on the skin. They're about as large as a clementine, maybe a tiny bit bigger. They smell like apples, but are really sour. They're probably some kind of crab apple.

My question is, is it possible to make a cider or cyser by just cutting up the apples into small wedges and throwing that into the fermentation pale like one would do with blueberries, cherries, etc? All cider and cyser recipes I've read call for bottled apple cider, but I thought it would be really nice to only use water, apples, sugar, and yeast to make some kind of easy fall hard cider.

Any tips? I'm completely in the dark here. I don't even know if these apples will sweeten and turn red in the fall. There's a ton in the tree, though.

Any info will be greatly appreciated. I just moved here and found out my neighbour has a cherry tree. I will try and befriend him so I can use his cherries for booze next year :laugh:
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Warthaug
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #2 by Warthaug » 2 years ago

If they are tart, the'll likely make a good cider (cider apples are typically tart). However, you do need to press them for juice; simply throwing them into a bucket won't work. Small-scale this isn't too bad - use a food blender to grind them up real small; place the pulp into a cheesecloth bag (brew-in-a-bag bags work really well), place the bag in a deep roasting tray, place a cookie sheet (or something else flat) on top, and weight it down as much as you can. Let sit ~15 minutes for the juice to come out. Repeat until all the apples are processed.

There are also a lot of plans out there for simple home presses; they'll work much better than the weight method I described above, but obviously also require a little more work & cost to build.

Once pressed you'll want to sulphate the cider to kill any bugs (especially if your apples are ground-fall apples), add pectin enzyme to clarify, and ~24 hours later add yeast. There are a lot of good recipes out there, but my favorite (which is also dirt-simple) is:

-Cider
-2.5 g/23L (5 gal) sodium or potassium metabisulfate
-2 teaspoons pectic enzyme per 23L/5 gal cider
-1 teaspoon wyeast yeast nutrient per 23L/5 gal cider
-1 pack nottingham dry yeast per 23l/5 gal cider

To prepare:
1) In a sanitized carboy mix cider and metabisulfate, cap with starsan'd tin foil, and let sit 12 - 15 hours
2) Add pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient, recap with foil and let sit another 12 hours
3) Rehydrate yeast & pitch; cap with blow-off tube.
4) Let ferment ~14 days, and then transfer to a clean carboy for secondary fermentation.
5) Age until its good - I usually let it go 3-6 months

The key things for good cider is yeast nutrient (cider is nutrient poor, and without nutrient fermentations are slow and off-flavour prone) and proper ageing. The metabisulfate is optional - it kills any wild yeast or bugs - but not killing these off can be a bit of a crap-shoot. I've made wild ciders that were amazing, and others that were horrid. Meta + brewers yeast removes that uncertainty.

Let us know how it goes!

Bryan
Visit my blog at suigenerisbrewing.com. Homebrewing, yeast wrangling, wild yeast and more!
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twistandstout
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #3 by twistandstout » 2 years ago

Thanks for the great post :cheers:

Do you know how I can adjust the apple juice to sugar content? I'm assuming, if they are crab apples, when I juice them, there won't be enough sugar in that must. I'll have to add some extra sugar in there. I'm not sure what a good gravity for cider would be.

Any recommendations?
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SmokeyMcB
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #4 by SmokeyMcB » 2 years ago

I made some crabapfelwein last fall. It was really great stuff. Once I had my juice pressed and in the fermenter. I campden bombed it and dropped in my hydrometer. Once I had my S.G. reading I just kept adding sugars and beating it with a drill wine mixer and re-testing till I was where I wanted to be. I could be wrong but I've always felt that once I campden bomb the must, I don't have to worry too much about being uber sanitary.

I think I sugared mine to 1.070ish with a mixture of white and brown sugar and it fermented to 0.998
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twistandstout
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #5 by twistandstout » 2 years ago

SmokeyMcB wrote:I made some crabapfelwein last fall. It was really great stuff. Once I had my juice pressed and in the fermenter. I campden bombed it and dropped in my hydrometer. Once I had my S.G. reading I just kept adding sugars and beating it with a drill wine mixer and re-testing till I was where I wanted to be. I could be wrong but I've always felt that once I campden bomb the must, I don't have to worry too much about being uber sanitary.

I think I sugared mine to 1.070ish with a mixture of white and brown sugar and it fermented to 0.998


Thanks for the advice. What would that ABV read? Approximately 10%? That sounds pretty reasonable for a cider. This seems like a good plan. I'm curious to see the gravity of an all crab apple juice must. I tasted them 2 weeks ago and they were very sour, but then again they probably aren't 'ready.'

Do you know when they would be? They've been falling off the tree all summer pretty much, but are only now starting to get slightly red. I know apples are ready in September, so that's when I was going to make this thing.

The yeast I have is Red Star Premier Cuvee white wine yeast. I was planning on using that. Is this known to be a proper yeast for cider? I also have lalvin d47 I used for meads.
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Warthaug
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #6 by Warthaug » 2 years ago

Most apples will give you gravity between 1.040 & 1.050; just fermenting that will give you a nice cider, 5-6% abv. You can also add sugar to boost the gravity if you like. My advice would be to measure the gravity and add sugar to get it to where you want. Keep in mind it'll have an fg of 1.000 or lower.

I agree with Smokey; if you add the sugar at the same time as the sulphate you don't need to boil the sugar. I just sanitize the spoon that I use with starsan and stir in the dry sugar.

B
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Warthaug
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #7 by Warthaug » 2 years ago

As for test, if you search homebrewtalk, there is a post where a guy testing over a dozen tests at one to see which worked best for cider. I don't remember many of the details, other than notty was the best. I've not used wine yeasts; my concern would be that their high glycerol production may give the cider an unusual mouthfeel.

B
Visit my blog at suigenerisbrewing.com. Homebrewing, yeast wrangling, wild yeast and more!
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twistandstout
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #8 by twistandstout » 2 years ago

Thanks a lot for all the info.

Say I were to not use sulphites (wife is allergic), could I boil my must for 15 minutes or so to kill off all wild yeast, cool it to pitching temperature, and go from there? I only plan on making 1-2 gallon batches.
Doc_Drive
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #9 by Doc_Drive » 2 years ago

Yup that would work. If you want to be absolutely sure, boil it, let it sit for a day and then boil it again. That way you'll get most of the spores as well. But I'd say you're fine with one time boil and a real healthy dose of yeast. That way you can also dissolve the sugar you're adding pretty well...
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twistandstout
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Re: Making Cyser or Cider using apples from a tree in backya

Post #10 by twistandstout » 2 years ago

Thanks to this thread, I feel I now have the knowledge to brew a solid cider. Thanks a lot to everyone who posted with helpful advice :laugh:

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