Apples on the tree? Time to make some Scrumpy!

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Or Hard Cider for those over the other side of the pond... :)
The wife and I have just bought a new house which has fruiting apple trees in it. (Why they're fruiting in June I've no idea! Southern California is weird.) There are only so many apple pies I can take, so I've decided to make a 5 gallon batch of Scrumpy.

Proper Scrumpy (the southern English variety) has only 2 components to it - it's the easiest thing in the world:

1) Apple juice
2) Honey

Real Scrumpy gets its yeast from the skin of the apples, but because I've got no idea of the yeast out here, I've decided to use a cultivated version made for English ale and add that.

I'm aiming for a light, fizzy, relatively low alcohol (about 5%) cider. Many are around 8 or 9% but I find that only a couple of those makes the room spin and leaves a killer hangover. In the hot weather over here I'd like something lighter.

Step 1:
Prepare the apple juice.
I soaked the apples in a bucket of water for a while to get rid of any critters that may be on them and then I cored the apples and used a centrifugal juicer rather than an apple press. Mostly because I'm lazy.
I got about 3.75 gallons of juice from my apples, so I have to top it up with some store bought apple juice... Not the end of the world, I just need to be careful to get pasteurized stuff without any preservatives in it.
I've transferred all that into a fermentation bucket to let the pulp settle out and let the fermentation begin.

In a few days I'll siphon it to a 6 gallon demijohn after skimming off the froth. That should help with the clarity down the line.

Step 2:
I've added a little under 2 pounds of honey to the juice. The apples themselves were quite sweet, and real Scrumpy actually uses incredibly sour (pretty much inedible) apples so I don't want to over sweeten at this point.

Step 3:
Measure the OG: Looks like we're at 1.064 before fermentation. I think that gives me a potential alcohol by volume of about 7 or 8% if I use up all the sugar in there.

My plan was to finish the bottling in a few months with a little champagne yeast to carbonate the cider and dry it out a bit. The downside to that plan is that it's far more likely to end up with the higher alcohol content that way... we'll see when we get there I guess.

Step 4:
Add the yeast.

And that's it. Simple.

I'll keep an eye on the fermentation in the demijohn and when it looks like it's pretty much done bubbling (Probably about 4 weeks) I'll take another hydrometer reading, add a little more yeast and then bottle it and keep it stored for at least 2 months.

Anyone else made hard cider before? How did yours turn out? Is there anything I'm forgetting? It's been a while since I did this!

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Who said Scrumpy Jack? (head pops up with attention, looking around with excitement)

"The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never know if they are genuine" - Abraham Lincoln

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Who said Scrumpy Jack? (head pops up with attention, looking around with excitement)

I've never had Scrumpy Jack cider, but I do have a table made from a "decommissioned" 100 year-old, 60,000 gallon vat of it.

It is #42 of 100 made. The table-top is the inside of the barrel, and you can see the progressive stain of the cider over the years through the wood; it's almost black on top, and blond on bottom. It also has the "plugs" where they drove a spike or wedge of wood to seal up leaks. It has a leaf in the center, and the mechanism is very old-school with gears.

If I ever have to downsize, this is one of the pieces of furniture that will go with me.
WSCR 594
FB 1023

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That's super cool!

Bits of furniture with stories to them like that beat Ikea stuff everytime! :D

Fermentation is coming along nicely, although for some reason it wouldn't start in the initial bucket. I left it for 4 days and not so much as a blip... I skimmed off some of the foam and transferred it to a 6 gallon carboy and it instantly started bubbling away. I'm guessing either the juice wasn't aerated enough initially for the yeast to do its thing, or maybe it just wasn't mixed enough.

Anyway, the airlock is now bubbling away so should have the first fermentation done in about 2 weeks I'd guess.

I want to do a secondary fermentation in the bottles using champagne yeast to make the cider dryer and give it the fizz I'm looking for. I'm not sure how to do it though - anyone know?
Do I use the same amount of yeast I did initially and mix it with the main batch and then siphon that in to the bottles?

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