Sweet, sweet wonderful Booze.
Homemade Booze to boot.
My wife’s Twitter feed tells me ’tis the season for every single food blog in the ‘sphere to be pushing spiced pumpkin things down my throat. Allow me to slightly buck that autumn trend and tell the tale how Garden Patrick and I recently turned a metric ton of these picked from my small apple orchard:
into almost fifteen gallons of Homemade Hard Apple Cider.
Our fruity plan budded when Patrick and his better half Dara visited for dinner a couple weeks back. We broke out a prized bottle of homemade Arkansas Moonshine Wine made by my Dad’s longtime friend… and I lamented how I probably wouldn’t have time to do anything with our absolute glut of apples since every spare moment of non-working, non-parenting time is spent finishing our chicken coop.
Speaking of those apple trees, as soon as I saw them during our first walk through of the house with our realtor, I was smitten. Especially since they still produce wonderfully despite being neglected for at least ten years.
No pruning. No spray. No pesticides. No preservatives. No wax. All apple.
They’re as organic as you can get, will stay that way, and we don’t have to wait for years for these like we’ll do with the other fruit saplings that will be planted throughout our five acres.
But I digress.
Patrick had other plans for us and those apples. He’s been brewing for a long time and thankfully has the knowledge and tools we’d need to put them to good use.
The boy did a great job pulling each one from the baskets on Mama and Dada’s nine foot long picker-bobbers (that’s a technical term I invented) and dropping them in a box. Sometimes gently.
After a few of those evening picker-bobber sessions, and after our littlest helper went night-night last Sunday, Joanna manned the baby monitor and I drove her prized Jack Lalanne Juicer Pro to Patrick’s so we could get down to business. Painstaking juicing business.
We worked this thing pretty hard over a few hours and it never missed a beat, except for routinely cleaning out the pulp that would clog the exit chute every now and then. I give it two Midwestern thumbs up, primarily because I didn’t accidentally maim/juice either of them despite that Mason jar half full of gin that accidentally got in this picture. It’s how we roll at Garden Patrick’s.
The biggest ones we had to quarter.
And at least one was sacrificed as a midnight snack.
When we (finally!) filled that tub with about five gallons, we fired up the bulletproof Bayou Classic Stove and kept everything at a constant temperature of 170 degrees for ten minutes.
After making Monsieur Pasteur happy, we quickly cooled our future hootch with a copper cooling coil hooked to a hose.
Then we bottled with a sucky siphon.
Time to add the yeast! All these little babies make nasty with each other (and themselves), multiply, eat sugars, and produce the good stuff. This is one of those rare occurrences in nature where sexual and asexual activity leads to alcohol and not the other way around.
While I’m on this train of thought, here’s the yeast packet. Pretty sure this particular one was in Patrick’s wallet since high school.
Anyway, we then attached an ingenius homemade airlock made from a tube and an empty bottle containing liquid. Any carbon dioxide given off from the fermentation is allowed to escape without air, and more importantly bacteria, able to enter our sanitized brew.
Five gallons down.
We Rinsed (literally). We Repeated. We made an additional (almost) ten gallons. We called it a night.
At 2AM I rolled out of there with a dirty and tired juicer and a five gallon bucket overflowing with pressed apple pulp.
Of course I also rolled out of there with the knowledge that in a few weeks Patrick and I will be toasting the fruit of our labor. And hopefully getting a little toasted.
Question of the Day: Anyone else brew cider? Any recipes to share? Dara experimented by making a separate gallon and adding some ginger root. I’m betting that will be tasty.