Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Granny Smith and Fuji Hard Cider

I put together my DIY apple press a couple weeks ago now, and I just this past weekend finally got around to putting it to a good use. Ive been on the lookout for all types of apples lately for pressing into cider, and I managed to get my hands on a bushel of both Granny Smith and Fuji Apples. (I will be posting a small blurb with some pics of my DIY apple grinder soon as well)


I was mainly interested in the Granny Smiths for their tartness, and I picked up the Fuji's on a whim. From the tidbits Ive picked up searching the web Fuji's don't hold up well to fermentation. However no one seems to give specific details about how varietal juices taste, they just repeat over and over again that blending is the key. Well to me without knowing what the individual juices taste like when they are fermented on their own its seems strange to mix a bunch of apple varieties together an hope.

Now I'm not saying that I think blending is bad, far from it actually. I always advocate blending, I think that's one of the most under utilized techniques in a brewers arsenal. In this case though I think that understanding the finished flavors of each variety could lend some much needed insight into getting a blend right to start with.


That is why I am pressing and fermenting each of these juices without blending. I then plan on posting tasting notes for each of the finished varietal hard ciders, and a suggested blend. To make sure that the flavors of each variety aren't significantly different once carbonated I also plan on bottling a case or so of each varietal juice for tasting down the road. I will as they come available to me, also press other juices and ferment the same way. Eventually I would like to build finished hard cider profiles for as many apple varieties as I can, so that I can easily tweak a blend to begin with.

Why even attempt this? Why not just always ferment varietal juices and blend post-fermentation? Im not totally against this method, especially as apples will vary from year to year, and yeast tend to not always produce the same flavors, both of which would make blending after the fact easier to produce a perfect product every time. However, I am tying up quite a few carboys in the process, and will most likely have some varieties that I use very little of. Now if that variety is great bottled on its own, then that is wonderful, but I'm guessing that will be the exception rather than the rule.

Blending pre-fermentation allows me to conserve carboys, and adjust how much of each variety I have to purchase. Saving me space and keeping $$ in my pocket. Eventually I hope to be able to taste un-fermented juice and be able to envision what it will be like as hard cider, and I'm guessing there are people who can do this, but for now and for all the other cider newbies like myself out there I think this will be a good way to understand how to make a quality homebrewed cider from scratch

For yeast I chose to go with White Labs 775 English Cider yeast, after having tasted an aged mead made with the yeast. The description also mentions that it preserves apple flavors in finished ciders! I also spent some time searching the web, and found little on the yeast except one post on the greenboard. Most of the references to cider yeast seemed to be talking about Wyeast's version, which is thoroughly disliked. That greenboard post though made me feel good about the yeast choice, as there were two tastings with a variety of yeasts. In the first round relatively quick after fermentation 775 scored pretty low, however, with a year aging it blew all the others out of the water.

Apple Cider 2011
Granny Smith CiderFuji Cider
AmtTypeAmtType
42lbsGranny Smith Apples40lbsFuji Apples
3/8tspSodium Metabisulfate5/16tspSodium Metabisulfate
Yeast - WLP775 English CiderYeast - WLP775 English Cider
Stats
VolumeOGFGVolumeOGFG
3.25gal1052-2.5gal1052-
Notes: Yeast was added 24hrs after sulfiting, however fermentation did not take off very quickly (likely too much sulfites in solution from low pH) so I added more yeast about 48hrs after initial yeast pitch. Fermentation then proceeded moderately quicklyNotes: Yeast was added 24hrs after sulfiting, and fermentation has proceeded fairly slowly, which I hope helps to retain a lot of apple flavor. No nutrients were added to either juice.

From the top left clockwise.
1 - Granny Smith apples prepped for grinding (halved, stems and bad spots removed.)
2 - Fuji's Prepped and sitting on the grinder, a dowel was used to push them down in.
3 - An apple "cheese" being made using a cut down 5gal pail and some cotton cloth.
4 - Apple pomace left after pressing, nice and dry. Great for dog treats or in the compost pile




Review - 2/3/2013 - Comparison with Gravenstein and Haldi Varietals


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

How did the Fujis turn out?

Ryan said...

Anon - I havent done a formal tasting yet, since in my experience they are all too young. I think cider takes quite a while to taste good once its bottled. Im hoping to do something formal later this summer. Off the record though the fuji is the least flavorful of all the types, but that could change.

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