Apfelwein…..already at 5 %

Apfelwein: German for Apple Cider

There is 5 gallons of raw,(  freshly pressed) apple cider,  sitting  in a food grade five gallon plastic bucket, fermenting behind me as I write.  I checked it with the hydrometer yesterday, it is already up to 5% alcohol content since I started.

This is my first attempt at making hard cider (freshly pressed, raw apple cider juice intentionally handled to morph into alcohol.)

I mentioned a few weeks ago, my latest life goal/ project is to become a fermentation master.

Some of it I hope to bottle up for gifts, some of it I hope to make into apple cider vinegar and some of it for personal consumption.

It is almost impossible to find (or buy) raw unpasteurized apple cider. Big brother has made it illegal to sell to the public without first being pasteurized, which is all well and good, but in the process, the good stuff is killed along with any potential harmful bugs. (just like its almost impossible to buy raw milk…unless you own a cow or buy it on the black market, it is not to be had)

I had to grind and press 2 bushel of apples to get 4 and 1/2 gallons of cider. The  #2 apples sell for $30 a bushel.   $60 worth of fruit,  2 hours of my time. and over $1000 of equipment  ( the whizbang apple grinder and a cider press.)   When someone recently suggested I could sell the cider for $6 to $8 a gallon I just kept quiet.    I told my wife, this stuff is conservatively worth $25 a gallon before it’s fermented.

I have no very little tolerance  for people who try to work me over  on a price of something I’m selling.

On another fermentation note…

I wanted to transfer the peach mead that I started fermenting a few weeks ago into another container this week.

Sampled some of it first.

My oh my.

Smooth and mellow.

Again, you can’t buy this stuff anywhere.

And finally, I am experimenting with a batch of what I will probably  call Jailhouse hooch.  Had a guy that used to work with me that did a little time in the Cook County jail.  One day over coffee break he gave me skinny on how they made hooch when he was in jail. …the only change I am making is instead of using a garbage bag and hiding it under my bed, I’m using a food grade plastic pail  😉

I started a batch this morning.

1 pound of firm fresh strawberries, 3 pounds of sugar, 3/4 t of baking yeast, one gallon of cold water and a 1 gallon food safe plastic bucket.   Before the fermentation process started I got a reading on the hydrometer.  It registered 60./ potential alcohol content 15%.

We will see.

I am taking copious notes in case I hit one out of the park. DM

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17 thoughts on “Apfelwein…..already at 5 %

  1. Sounds like you have the ingredients to get totally sloshed! My Dad’s homebrew was like rocket fuel when he started to concentrate on alcohol content. The judges at the Summer Fayres he used to partake in were quite often speechless from his power of ‘peach’. wow.

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    • that is a good story! 🙂 I’m really not interested in getting hammered. got that impulse out of my system years ago. No thank you:-) but it is fun to learn about these things and just how simple the process can be.It isn’t rocket science…except in your dad’s case, sounds like it was 🙂 Was it a kind of peach wine he was tinkering with?

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      • Oh all sorts. I was given a half demi john of elderflower champagne for my 18th (very nishe), his black cherry and blackberry were wonderful and stuck to the glass so well you practically had to lick it off, and his home made tea sherry (forgotten in the roof and fermented for almost 5 years) was a great tonic for getting a foster kid to open up to me at 3am over a pack of cards about his problems. Dad’s wines were lovely though, revived the family budgie after a stroke, the elderberry kept colds away during the winter, and Dad always managed to come away from the shows with more rosettes and higher places than my sister. Having a small orchard probably helped, plums, pears and apples, and we’d often go off at weekends foraging for sloes. The root veg wines though were an acquired taste provided you had either no sense of smell or a good peg. Liquid manure smelt better than his parsnip or swede, but his carrot wine was such a beautiful colour! Such happy memories. One glass and you were on your back, sleeping like a baby. God, I miss him!

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        • Your words about your dad so warm my heart…(especially your last 2 sentences) Enjoyed the descriptions of the various concoctions he made. Have you and Paul done any of this sort of thing? (made your own) DM

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  2. Peach mead…that sounds really good. Is it very sweet? I bet it would make a nice spritzer sort of drink with some sparkling water or juice. The cider sounds lovely as well. If it works well, perhaps consider adding some ginger. I’ve had the commercial brands of hard cider with ginger and they are tasty, although pear is my favorite.

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    • It’s not overly sweet…Both the Mrs and I prefer sweet over dry..I’d say it’s in the middle..just a hint of bubbly. I am flying blind so if this stuff turns out I will be as amazed as anyone 🙂

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  3. I’ve been wanted to learn to do this for a long time. I’m envious. I studied up on winemaking and years ago planted lots of apple trees with future cider in mind. But every year slips away and I still haven’t done it! The jailhouse hooch has been on my mind too. I have a friend who makes it. A former cop who also got tips on the technique from people who learned behind bars.

    Good work DM. Enjoy!

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    • You’d be good at it. If you get caught up on your reading, that book on fermentation by Sandor Katz I mentioned in the earlier post I wrote would be a good investment. (if you don’t have it already) He makes it sound so easy to do…almost can’t screw up as long as you keep some simple things in mind…. I think that is neat you also know someone who has gotten some tips on jailhouse hooch.

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  4. Hey DM, love the post! I am sitting here eating Kimchi, the Korean equivalent of (extra spicy) sauerkraut…I got it at the local Asian market.
    Ingredients: Napa cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, scallion, red pepper powder, sugar, anchovy sauce (anchovy, salt), sea salt. (Anchovy sauce is sort of a fishy version of soy sauce). “Kimchi is a naturally fermented product. Bubble and gas may occur.’

    I think I bought it because your posts about fermenting were in my mind…I haven’t yet gotten around to any fermentation projects but you talking about the health benefits of fermented foods reminded me that I should be including them in my diet, whether or not I managed to make any myself. I don’t know if you knew this, but the time I visited you and your wife with my two kids, when we were driving cross-country, I had a large container of Bragg’s un-pasterurized apple cider vinegar in my car, and had been adding a tablespoon or two to my water all across the country. My kids made fun of me– every day when we were camping I had to fill up my 1-liter jug with vinegar water and get started drinking (I actually like the flavor, too). Maybe it was part of the reason I stayed healthy through lack of sleep and a lot of cold damp in the mountains out West? It was helpful in more ways than one– that whole hot summer, my kids refused to drink MY water because it “tastes nasty!” so they had to be a little more self-reliant and actually remember to carry their own cold water to drink, LOL! Maybe I’ll make myself a cup later.

    Do you know about this stuff? “Switchel”– a vinegar based ginger-ale/lemonade kind of drink, drunk in colonial times and still drunk in Amish communities, apparently. I’ve made it before with ginger and honey and it’s really delicious..well, at least to me. But then again, I like vinegar water 😉
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/switchel-drinking-vinegar-to-stay-cool-98891755/?no-ist

    Funny where you pick things up, right? I was just thinking about how I knew about kimchi– and remembered that I first heard of it when I was about 14 years old, in a summer program run by our local Natural History Museum, “future scientists”– a really neat program where we mostly helped assist in archaeological digs in a former Native American site– not as glamorous as it sounds, mostly a lot of sifting of dirt, but exciting all the same. The guy who ran it was a Korean War vet, and had developed a taste for kimchi while in Korea. He’d found a Korean lady in his West Side Cleveland neighborhood who made it (in the old way, burying crocks in her backyard) and she was his supplier. I still remember how it looked (bright red) and how weird exotic it seemed at the time. He talked up the spiciness so I think we all avoided it but it clearly stuck in my head. Now it’s in my bowl…
    Well, I’m chatty today. Gonna shut up now. Have a great day, DM!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And finally, I am experimenting with a batch of what I will probably call Jailhouse hooch. Had a guy that used to work with me that did a little time in the Cook County jail. One day over coffee break he gave me skinny on how they brew hooch when he was in jail. *(instead of using a garbage bag and hiding it under my bed, I’m using a food grade plastic pail 😉

    Teehee 😄

    Liked by 1 person

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