Please welcome guest blogger, Robert Randall! Robert lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon. He is a formally trained artist and musician and teaches animation to middle school students in the Portland area. When he’s not creating art or music, Robert can usually be found in his garden and kitchen, cooking up something homegrown and delicious.
Most people don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about apples, but apples and I have had quite the journey over the years. I grew up with apple trees in my backyard, like, a lot of apple trees. In case you are amongst the uninitiated, real fruit producing apple trees take year round work. Growing up, tending to the trees was a family affair. I remember my sister and I would have to pick up the trimmed apple sucker branches in the winter and the rotten fallen apples in the summer. It was hard work for a kid and I can’t say it was much fun.
My mom would make pies and applesauce all summer long, but still most of the apples would end up rotting in a compost pile. We always knew that the apples would ferment and make alcohol. The Yellow Jacket wasps would get very protective of the alcoholic apple pile. After some experimenting with homemade beer in college, I decided to try and take the less pretty apples that would be bound for the compost and make them into hard cider.
First, I gathered 4 big baskets of downed apples as they come into season; my parents have several varieties that overlap slightly in season so I can make blends and single varietals. Then I cut up the apples and run them through a big old-school juicer. Once I’ve collected all the juice in a big stockpot, it’s time to pasteurize it. I heat the raw cider to a temp of 161 degrees then let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled its time to put the pasteurized cider into a sterile fermenter and add the yeast.
There are many types of yeast you can find online or at a brewing store; I use dry white wine yeast. Then it’s time to wait, usually around a week depending on your yeast and how sweet your apples are. When the cider has stopped frothing its ready to bottle. I use sterilized, dark brown, flip-top bottles. Finally it’s time for the bottle label. I like to put the year and the variety on each bottle so I can put a couple away and see how they age in years to come.
- Beer Labels • I chose the “Stasbourg” style in Chocolate.