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General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: ryang on September 27, 2010, 09:10:51 PM

Title: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: ryang on September 27, 2010, 09:10:51 PM
I picked about 10 pounds of crabapples at my in-laws.  My town is having their annual "Cider Days" and they've got presses for use and apples for sale. 

My plan was to add crabapple juice to taste with other fresh pressed apples for some fermentation experimentation.

My question... should I press a mixture of apples or try just one variety?  I have really come to love honeycrisp, but having very little knowledge of cider leaves me with questions and uncertainty.  I like tart as opposed to overly sweet (which may be a downfall to only using honeycrsip  :-\   

All my previous ciders have been from what I would assume to be a mix (store bought organic pasturized cider).

What you veteran cider makers say?  Just use a mix of cheap apples and crabapple juice or what?

I'm planning on doing one big 5 gal batch along with 3 other 1 gallon batches.  That being said I have 3 yeast options: montrachet, lalvin 71b-1122, Lalvin 1116-K1V.  For sure one of the 1-gal batches will be fermented with german hefeweizen yeast.

What apples and which yeast should go in the 5 gal batch in your opinion? 
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: alikocho on September 27, 2010, 09:48:44 PM
Unless you really want the characteristics of a single varietal cider, some of which can be wonderful, others not so, I'd go for a blend. I've never done honeycrisp, but my sense is that you'd get a sweet, possibly quite thin and one-dimensional cider out of them. Other apples will do better - Spartans, Cox's, and my favorite Kingston Black (all British varieties) produce good ciders. Others don't stand alone so well but work well in the mix.

What you really need to do is get the balance between acid and sweet, and decide whether you want dry, semi-sweet or sweet cider. The Crabs will give you some acid bite, and a mix of other things never goes amiss in giving some extra dimensions.

As to yeast, I have no idea what the hefe yeast will do, and the other options are wine yeasts. While these will work, I'd suggest using a cider yeast, or just use the wild yeast from the apples straight from the press.
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: tschmidlin on September 27, 2010, 10:41:11 PM
Don't expect to get the classic flavor profile from the hefeweizen yeast.  The clove phenolics from the yeast depend on ferulic acid in the fermenter, and apples typically have a lot less ferulic acid than wheat and barley.  Sources I found say that the apple crops they tested had 0.55 ppm ferulic acid.  If it was 100% converted into 4-vinyl guaiacol then it should be above the flavor threshold (reported to be 0.3 ppm), but wheat beers are often have level of 4-VG 10 times higher than that and the enzymes that do the conversion don't work that efficiently apparently, so you're not likely to hit 0.55 ppm of 4-VG.

The isoamyl acetate comes more from pitching rate IIRC, so you should still be able to get that fine.

I'm not saying don't do it, I really want you to and report back how it goes!  I'm just trying to give you an idea of what you can expect as a result.

Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: stlaleman on September 27, 2010, 10:54:51 PM
A cider yeast will work best, blending the crab apple cider in will definately add acid and tannins. One of the best sweet ciders I ever had was a blend of Wealthy apples and Whitney crabapples, both mid-late summer varieties.
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: enso on September 27, 2010, 11:53:31 PM
I definitely concur with the blend suggestion.  There are not many apples that have the right balance of sugar, acidity, tannins, and aromatics to make an enjoyable single varietal cider.  They do exist, they just are not your typically available varieties.

The crabs will be a good idea, but go easy on them.  You will wind up with a cider that is not just tart but suck your head in on itself acidic if you add too much.  Dependent on the crabapple variety...

My advice if you can manage it would be to press different apples separately in the amounts you believe would make a good blend.  Guesstimate.  Then, do some blends with small measured amounts of each juice until you find the blend you like.  Then scale it up to your full batch.

Use a rather "bland" apple to make up the bulk of juice.  Something sweet with not much for acidity or tannins (bitterness) and not overly aromatic.  Then use some medium aromatic and tart (acidic) apples plus to add character.  The crabapple juice will add more tartness (acidity) and tannins.  Only a small percentage should be needed.

When you are tasting your preferment blend keep in mind that much of the sweetness (if not all depending on how you ferment) will be gone in the end.  So, if it starts fairly acidic and tannic (sharp and bitter) it will be much more so after it is done.

It is helpful to get one of the inexpensive winewaker's acid test kits.  With that you can test you juice for acidity.  Aim for a titratable acid level in the range of 5-7 g/liter of acid.  Higher than that and pucker up!

I would suggest asking the folks at this festival for some guidance.  Even if the majority are only pressing sweet cider they can help you pick out some apple varities.

As for yeast any of the yeasts will do fine.  You will end up with a dry cider unless you do something to inhibit the yeast.  I have always used the wine yeasts myself as I enjoy dry ciders.  I have used them to make some semi sweet cider as well.
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: ryang on October 04, 2010, 02:43:37 PM
wow, so I pressed the 10lbs of crabapples and about 5lbs of apples from my pathetic tree... not quite one quart of juice!  I wasn't expecting much, but I was a bit surprised.  My wife made an interesting comment... crabapples are quite dry - much more than say a juicy granny smith/gala/whatever.  Does that make sense, or is it perceived dryness from the acidity?

It was neat to press our own apples.  It was a learning experience and now we have a better plan of attack for next year.
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: alikocho on October 04, 2010, 04:35:26 PM
You can always do a second pressing of the pulp to extract more juice.

Even so, you're yield sounds a little low. Did you scrat (pulp) the apples first? I reckon on about 10-15lbs to the gallon.
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: ryang on October 04, 2010, 06:25:56 PM
the apples were coarsely crushed prior to pressing.  would a finer grind be better for juice yield?  seems like it might be.  it didn't seem like the contraptions were all that adjustable.  they were pretty old-timey presses that the local rotary club brought out.   I pressed the apples pretty good - to the end of the threads on the crank with an extra block to go even further.

oh well.  the crabapple juice was not nearly as tart as I expected, but I think most of the tartness comes from the skin.  a beautiful red color though!  lots of people thought it was cherry juice when I was carrying it around.
Title: Re: Pressing apples and yeast selection
Post by: alikocho on October 04, 2010, 06:46:29 PM
The more you can crush them, the more you should get out, but I wouldn't sweat it. I use a garden shredder to pulp the apples, which does a nice job with very little work.

Having said that, depending on your press design, a few more blocks might have got you a bit more out.

In the end though, it's only juice.