Saturday, 7 November 2009


What is it with recession and home brew? Back in the 90's Adam was, apparently, quite prolific on the home brew front. Having not brewed anything for over a decade, this year he decided to use up our supply of wilding apples by making cider and his home brew renaissance seems to have co-incided with another economic downturn. Happily, the increased popularity of home brew at the moment means it's much easier to get hold of supplies. Even our sleepy little Norfolk town now boasts it's own home brew shop.

Apologies for the vagueness of some quantities, this has really been an experimental process!

We started with about 20lbs of apples which was made up of about 80% sharp tasting wildings and 20% full on crab apples. They were sliced roughly and put into a fermenting bin with 5 gallons of water. Adam pounded them with the end of a rolling pin to release as much juice as possible and added 1lb sugar per gallon of liquid. After about 3 weeks in the fermenting bin, when the cider had cleared, the apples were scooped out and the juice strained into an air tight container with an air lock.

At this stage, it's advisable to monitor the frequency of the bubble-flobble through the airlock to make sure the cider is fermenting correctly. A rate of one flobble every 20 seconds to start with is about right, if it's slower than this try adding a bit more sugar or yeast. When the flobble rate slows down to one a minute, it's time to bottle up.

We poured the cider into bottles (plastic is probably wise!) and put some sugar in each to create bubbles - 4 tsps for a 1 litre bottle, double for 2 litre. After around 5 weeks it should be ready to drink. Ours looks impressively clear in the bottle but it does have quite a lot of sediment at the bottom which is impossible to avoid mixing into the poured drink - thanks to the lovely bubbles - but it doesn't affect the taste or mouth feel.

The final product is really very good - to my palate at any rate. It's quite dry but also light and refreshing and troublingly easy to drink. I think the key is finding apples which are sharp and not over sweet. If, like us, you have a number of wild apples trees to choose from, it's worth taking the time to get to know the characteristics of the different fruit. A good cider apple needs to be quite tannic, if you cut/bite a chunk out and it browns quickly, you're onto a winner. We've also made a 2nd batch, replacing the crab apples with japonica quince but that's not ready yet so goodness knows how that one will turn out.

I have no idea how strong the finished cider is but I'm finishing off that glass in the photo and let's just say the spell check is working overtime!


  1. Hiya Tracey, Wazzat (Twitter) here :-)

    You know, the BH and I were just talking about this a week or so ago. He has taken quite a liking to cider (not a 'problem'... yet, lol) and on our hols a couple of weeks ago in Somerset he started wondering if he could really make his own at home.

    I've been meaning to check out some websites and see what all is involved, and equipment. I don't know that we have a place to do this, there is NO space whatsoever where we are - it would almost have to be done outside . . . :-(

    Make sure to tweet if you get so proficient at this that it goes on sale, lol.

  2. lol..on the spell check.

    I have to say i have never made my own alcohol and I probably won't as I'm not a huge drinker but in the past my parents made wine and cider..can't remember if it tasted good there any way you can find out the proof of your alcohol??? That would be interesting!!

  3. Wazzat - there's not that much equipment involved, we only have a fermenting bin (basically a large, lidded bucket) and a 2nd bin with an air lock (to keep bacteria out) only 1 is in use at any one time, you could make do with just the airlocked one. In the end we produced 4 2 litre and 5 75cl bottles so not a huge amount to store. Depends how keen you are on cider I guess!

    Tania - I'd love to know too but we're not sure how to do it. Adam's figured it out with a hydrometer when he's used a kit but he's not sure if it would work with fresh apples - I don't pretend to understand any of it!

  4. PS - Tania - have popped over to your blog re the award thing, will figure it out and respond asap. Thank you for thinking of me!