For me, beer and cider making is a seasonal affair. This is because, like many renters, our apartment does not include a cold cellar. It is important to keep temperatures during fermentation between 15 and 23 degrees celsius, if it is hotter than this your brew will ferment to fast and produce funky flavours, cooler and it wont ferment at all. In our poorly airconditioned apartment temperatures often jump up to over to over 30 degrees throughout the summer. As hard as it is to accept that temperatures are dropping it is equally exciting to start taking on new projects as the seasons change.
Last week I was lucky enough to lead an apple pick for Not Far From The Tree in the Vaughn and Arlington area. In a beautiful backyard bordering Cedervale Ravine grew two gorgeous apple trees. Nobody was quite sure what type of apples they were, but the best guess was Red Delicious. The apples were of all different sizes and bumpy and gnarly, not exactly the eating apples, but perfect for baking, sauce and most importantly cider. From these two trees we gleaned close to 200 pounds of fruit. Volunteering to take the windfall, and with the owners of the house not wanting their share, I walked away with a full bushel of apples.
From my cider brewing experience last year I learned that it takes a lot of apples to get a cup of juice. In order to have enough apples Dave and I ventured to the Toronto Food Terminal at 6 am to buy some inexpensive number 2's, the name for low grade apples. I've never seen such an interesting scene at 6 in the morning in all my life. There was a huge amount of energy, with chefs and grocers abound, prices were being haggled, fork lifts were zooming every which way, and even beers were being drank. The entire bushel, about 40 pounds, was only 15 dollars.
For last years attempt at cider I used a juicer. I found that this made to clear a liquid and didn't leave behind any of those intensely appley flavours that cider has. For this year I decided to get a proper fruit press. So when my Grandma asked me what I would like for a graduation gift, I think she was pretty surprised by the answer. The press worked fantastically. First the apples were pureed into a pulp in a food processor and then dumped into the press with a cheese cloth lining around it. The puree was then pressed producing a surprising amount of juice and leaving behind a completely dry and crumbly disc of apple. After an entire day of pressing apples (thank you Shira for giving up your whole day to help) we produced enough cider to fill a 25 liter carboy. This is enough cider to fill just over 30 champagne size bottles with delicious bubbly hard apple cider which, depending on my patience, will be ready to drink in about 8 months.