let's hope the fermentation begins soon

Tips from Mark

We (Pam and Chris) went to Wells today to collect 350 bottles for the cider from Mark.

We also took samples from the 3 fermenting bins for him to test/try. It
turns out that the big barrel is still fermenting and the smaller two a
little bit so there’s no panic on bottling.
The big barrel was 1001.5 SG so still a bit of a way to go. John, that
doesn’t tally with ours. I wonder whether we may need to buy another
hydrometer just in case ours is malfunctioning. I’m going to check the cider
weekly to monitor progress. Mark seemed to think it was the fluctuating
temperatures.

He also sampled a drop (mouthful) of each and came up with the conclusion
that we’d be best blending them all – 70% (big barrel), 15%, 15% split. The
big barrel is more acidic than the others.
When we do finally bottle it he suggested 0.05 grams sugar dissolved in a
bit of warm water per bottle. This will need to be done in batches – maybe
20 litres at a time. I think we need to confirm this with Mark prior to
bottling.

He will test the ABV next week when he does his own cider but suggested it
will be in the region of 5.5 to 6.5. Another thing he mentioned is that we
don’t have to be too accurate when we label the bottles – 0.5 either way is
acceptable.

Mark also gave us 6 330ml clear bottles for vinegar samples which Susanne is
going to take to various outlets with the aim of selling this year’s batch
of apple cider vinegar. So for sale next year – 2016.

Racking

To everything, there is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under Heaven
(Lyrics adapted by Pete Seeger from Ecclesiastes)

Being involved with the Trunch Cider Coop certainly highlights the truth of those lines from Pete Seeger’s folk song of the 60s. We pick the fruit in warm Autumn days; begin pressing as the year progresses and …..

… on Wednesday 4th February 2015 the season had turned around to the time for “Racking” and the weather was bitingly cold. Katherine, Christine, Susanne, Chris, John, Dave, Pam and Kate gathered at the Tee Barn, to get on with the work. Woolly socks, scarves, skiing underwear and boots were much in evidence over the 2.5 hours it took to complete the tasks.

Racking means saying good bye to all of the sediment that is in the bottom of the barrels.

This sediment is called “lees” and it is all of the fruit solids and bitter tasting dead yeast left over from fermentation. The SG(= specific gravity) of the liquid was around 1000 when we started racking. The clearer, good liquid at the top is carefully siphoned off, into new, clean containers and left to continue further fermentation.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

But it was cold, at times hard work. Fingers grew numb and noses crimson. Pam braved the bitter cold outdoors, to jet wash the containers, and in zero temperature that’s got to count as a labour of love! John and Chris siphoned and lifted till their backs were aching. Maybe some pure, organic, cider vinegar will ease those aching joints, fellas?

60 gallons of cider are now safely stored in clean containers to continue fermenting.

Not as much as last year, unfortunately. We were donated a lot more apples in 2013.
However as a bonus, several more gallons of “scrap” liquid have been removed to various sites around the village to be covered with muslin and allowed to develop into cider vinegar. It’s been moved away from the cider making process, to lessen the risk of contamination.

Apple cider vinegar is said to be a natural remedy for many ailments. In 400 B.C.E Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) knew about apple cider vinegar’s antibiotic properties and recommended it to his patients for its healing properties. Since then it’s been valued by many cultures right up to modern times.

Our Apple cider vinegar will be unpasteurized and so will retain its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.

Among the ailments it’s said to cure are joint pain, arthritis, gout, candida, sore throat, gum infection, sinus infection and acid reflux. It also tastes fantastic as salad dressing! It does take a little longer than the cider to mature but last year’s results are already showing that it’s well worth the extra wait.