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Cider Making

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Mistral001
Mistral001 Posts: 5,362 Forumite
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edited 2 November 2022 at 3:17PM in Old style MoneySaving
This year my Bramley apple tree has produced over twice its normal crop and I am wanting to make cider with the left over apples.  I have made a homemade apple press, which seems to produce apple juice quite well.  I have brewed beer, but hve never made cider before. 
Has anybody here tried to make cider with Bramleys?  Are they sweet enough to make good cider on their own, or do I need to add sugar?  I am hoping for at least 10 litres judging by the amount of apples I have.

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  • thriftwizard
    thriftwizard Posts: 4,694 Forumite
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    edited 2 November 2022 at 9:37PM
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    Not much help, as I've never made cider, but I do know that one of the main cider apples used is the Dabinett, which is too tart for most people to eat. So Bramleys are probably plenty sweet enough!

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  • goldfinches
    goldfinches Posts: 2,251 Forumite
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    My father used to press the apples from their garden and then fill old plastic milk bottles with the juice. He found that if you left a gap of a couple of inches at the top of the bottle that he could freeze them and have fresh juice all year round so he never got around to making cider. The juice from their bramleys was delicious and we never found it too tart so I don't think you'd need to add any sugar to yours.

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  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 11,649 Forumite
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    When you make cider (or any alcohol) the yeast eats the sugar and produces alcohol. Saying something isnt too tart pre-fermentation could easily mean it will become too tart when the sugar has been digested.

    A quick google and most people say not to do Bramley on their own as the PH is too low after but a blend of apples works much better even if Bramley are the majority.
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 33,005 Forumite
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    edited 5 November 2022 at 5:42PM
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    The problem isn't making cider.

    If you have apple juice, the problem is stopping it making cider.

    Either leave to ferment with a fermenting lock and after a few weeks, add Campden tablets and re-ferment using a champagne yeast.

    Or just let it ferment. Rack off next spring. One of our community groups then syphons into 2 litre pop/water bottles as each drum is finished.

    It may produce very dry still cider, which often opens out if left in the glass a little while. Or you can bottle, add a little sugar, cap and allow a little fermentation to produce a sweeter slightly sparking cider. I did two demijohns one year; one was decidedly fruity, the other needed half an hour to open out.

    But, very dry cider is wonderful on a hot day, a little in a glass topped off with sparkling water.

    Or take the bung out, cover with muslin and convert to vinegar. Very expensive stuff, good organic cider vinegar.

    Or you could just put some juice in clean sterile empty plastic containers with extension space and freeze. Or in glass and pasteurise.

    PS Bramleys STORE intact really well if you have whole unbruised fruit. Through to the early spring if you have anywhere coolish and vermin proof. Much under-rated.
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  • CJRyder
    CJRyder Posts: 238 Forumite
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    Hi there, brewer of beer and cider here! I would err on the side of caution and add some commercial apple juice to take the edge off the Bramley flavour. Another option would be to add some darker sugar such as a demerara or dark muscavado. While sugar will ferment right down this mainly applies to the more heavily processed white sugars. 
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  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 33,005 Forumite
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    At this time of year, particularly after such a hot summer and early ripening, I wouldn't be too concerned. Taste the apple juice first and ensure it's got a good balance of sweet and acid.

    Remember shop bought Bramleys are picked unripe and stored in artificial atmospheres (often nitrogen) to preserve them. Tree ripened fruit are streaked and reddened and much less tart.
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  • Sapindus
    Sapindus Posts: 426 Forumite
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    edited 6 November 2022 at 9:03AM
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    I have made cider once and it was mostly Bramley.  I second the above opinion that a properly ripened Bramley is a totally different beast to the shop bought sort.  We had Bramley trees that were probably direct grafts from the original as they were very old and we lived just outside Southwell.  The apples would lie on the lawn until Christmas and still be perfectly usable until the birds got to them.

    The advice I would give is to make the largest batch you possibly can as there is much less chance of it going "wrong", and if you can club together with someone else it makes less work and greater chance of success, plus their apples will add to the blend.  I don't think there's really any right or wrong about it, your cider will just be uniquely yours.  We added nothing to the juice, not even yeast.  We pressed a dustbin full of juice and stood debating at the end of the day whether to add yeast, slept on it, and in the morning it was already working.
  • Mistral001
    Mistral001 Posts: 5,362 Forumite
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    Thanks for all the comments.   So fully ripened Brambleys seem to work for cider.  I have a lot of half-ripened windfall apples, which I will have to press and ferment separately with perhaps a few Royal Gala or other very sweet apples from the supermarket. 
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 33,005 Forumite
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    You'd be fine with about half ripe and half unripe. I'd expect to have to cut out some damaged, rotten bits from the windfalls. Bruised is Ok, rot is not. And don't worry about any codling moth, they are long departed, and any frass will be sifted out by the liner in the press.

    You'll probably end up about 6%.
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