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The easy way at any time of year? Go to be turbo cider, plenty of variations (search "turbo cider" for more recipes). The ones I make are generally as follows (I use supermarket apple juice in 1 litre containers, hence the quantities):
– You need a demijohn or gallon water bottle, and an airlock (bubbler). You need to sterilise them with sterilising powder.
– Put about 0.5-litres (1 pint) of supermarket apple juice into a pan and bring it up to a simmer.
– Add 150 grammes of sugar to the hot apple juice and stir until it dissolves and turn off the heat.
– Add 2-litres of apple juice to the demijohn and the other 1/2-litre from the one you heated up.
– Add the hot apple juice and sugar mix to the demijihn and give it a swirl.
– Make a really strong cup of tea (3 teabags to one cup, or use the cold, stewed tea at the bottom of the pot after a brew) and add that to the demijohn along with the juice of a lemon. These add tannin and acidity which make for a much better cider. Cider apples naturally contain lots of these, but dessert juicing apples don’t.
– Add 5g of Young’s cider yeast over the top.
– Fit the airlock (remembering to add water to the bubbler).
– Leave in a warmish place for 2-7 days. There will be a heavy "bready" froth on top after 1 or 2 days, it looks disgusting but is normal. If it froths up into the airlock and contaminates the bubbler, remove the airlock, clean it and put fresh water in the bubbler.
– Once the heavy bready froth has died down it will dissolve back into the liquid. It’s now safe to remove the airlock, top up with more apple juice to the neck of the demijohn and replace the airlock.
– Leave for at least 2 weeks. It will start out cloudy and then slowly clear. When the bubbles stop coming through the airlock and the liquid clears (clear enough to read a newspaper through the demijohn) it can be syphoned out into bottles – this could be as early as 2 weeks, it could take 4 or 6 weeks. Use PET (plastic coke type) bottles. Make sure they are clean – stertilise them to be sure. One batch as I’ve described will fill two 2-litre bottles plus one 1/2-litre bottle. Try not to disturb the sediment as you syphon into the bottles.
– Leave the bottles for at least two weeks. The cider will now be drinkable, but the longer you leave it the better it gets.
That’s the way I make cider at this time of year. For a variation, replace the added sugar with fruit syrup. In the UK there’s a very nice raspberry syrup that’s easy to get hold of in the UK. It adds more sugar than my normal recipt so it’s a bit stronger. But fermented out it’s not at all sweet and does still have a raspberry taste. Someone described it as like a dry sherbet flavour.
The sugar cotent determines the strength. With 150-grammes the potential is about 7.1% ABV. If you leave the sugar out altogether you can get a very nice 5.1%ABV. The raspberry variation has a potential of 7.9%ABV. You can’t just keep adding sugar though, eventually the yeast can’t cope. Plus you lose the flavour.
Last Autumn I did it starting with apples and pressed the juice myself. But you only get to do that for a very short part of the year.
Make sure you have unpasteurised apple juice otherwise it won’t work.
Make sure you have good fermenting equipment (carboy, air lock) and that it’s well cleaned out.
Make sure you have quality yeast. The first time you might want to pick a yeast that people commonly use (there aren’t many made for cider but there are favourite wine yeasts of the cider making community)
Make sure you have the correct amount of sugar. I think you might need to add more than the juice itself.
You can only make proper hard cider from cider apples – but then as a west country person maybe I am biased!
Here is a recipe for a strong dry cider using ordinary apples:-
3.6kg apples, skin on
28g Root Ginger
Juice 4 Lemons
1kg White Sugar
NB do not use any metallic utensils.
Roughly chop up apples and cover with 9L boiling water.
Leave for 2 weeks. Crush apples every now and again. Ensure no mould forms.
Boil 1L water.
Strain liquid from apples and add Ginger, lemon juice and sugar to it.
Add the boiled litre of water and leave to stand for 2 weeks. Check for scum rising to surface and skim off.
Strain into resealable bottles. Don’t quite fully screw lids up.
5 weeks later tighten lids right up.
Store in cool dark dry area for 2 months.
Drink within 1 year.
Proper cider does of course go through a press and is mashed, but the above recipe is good if you don’t have all the right equipment.
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