This year I got my pears and some of my apples from my friend Sam Wall at Wall Farm. The friends who used to supply pears and some apples have moved and have sold their property to their son, who I have never met. Sam has several very large pear trees that have never been trimmed, out in a cow pasture. The pears I picked appear to be Clapps pears. The apples came from several sources, including Sam’s place, the small seed-grown tree on our property and a tree on the adjacent property. I don’t know what any of the varieties are. All of the fruit sat on the back porch and ripened for nearly two weeks. That was almost too long for the pears, they were very ripe when pressed.
Pressing took place over a few days between September 8th and 10th. Pressing was an adventure this year due to the high number of yellow jackets. I just moved slowly and deliberately and always looked at things before I picked them up. I managed to avoid getting stung.
In the past, I usually pressed the pears first, then the apples. This year I got smart about it. Pressing pears always led to a lot of solid bits going into the juice. This tended to clog the filter in the funnel when I filled the carboys and then the first racking would leave up to a half gallon of debris behind. This year, I used apple to filter the pear. For each pressing, I ground about five gallons of apples first and arranged this in a cup shape in the bottom of the press. Then I ground five gallons of pears and poured the resulting mush into the cup. Then another five or ten gallons of apples went on top, in another cup shape if I had more pears. This worked out very well. I have far less debris in the juice and the filter on the funnel only clogged up once. The only minor drawback to this is that my estimates of how much pear juice are in each batch are less precise. Ultimately, I filled two six gallon carboys and then had about another two and a half or three gallons for vinegar.
Batch #1: Six Gallons – approximately 25% pear, three apple varieties
This batch was already fermenting the next morning. I suspect that is because the pears were so very, very ripe. I probably could have just dropped them into the press from a height instead of grinding them. The tested SG, after racking, was about 1.052 or about 6.5% alcohol potential.
It is currently in carboy #2.
June 30th, 2014
Racked and added a half gallon of Heavenly Honey wildflower honey. This juice suffers from an “old sock” off flavor. Really, all of the 2013 batches do, to a lesser or greater extent. Next year I will only allow natural fermentation in one batch made from fruit from Wall Farm because I fear that the local yeasts there are too aggressive. This batch should hit approximately 12% alcohol.
It is currently in carboy #1
Batch #2: Six Gallons – approximately 15% pear, three apple varieties
This batch took a couple of days to start fermenting. The juice tastes excellent and we have high hopes for this batch. The tested SG, after racking, was about 1.056 or about 7.5% alcohol potential.
September 17th, 2013
The fermentation got very “hot” yesterday. We were out most of the day and the house was closed up, so it warmed up somewhat. When we got home, the airlock on this batch was emitting a constant stream of bubbles and the juice was visibly churning. Normally we like to see no more than one bubble per second from the airlock. In our opinion, the slower the fermentation is, the better flavors are created in the end product. A hot fermentation tends to create nasty tasting esters with flavor profiles like “acetone”. Amber spotted the hot fermentation and promptly moved it out onto the back deck. We then placed the carboy in a cooler, filled it up with cool water and added ice packs. The fermentation had calmed down by morning. It is still bubbling more rapidly than the other batch. We have left it in the cooler for now. The weather was cool and cloudy today so the back deck didn’t get all that warm.
June 28th, 2014
Racked and added one gallon of Heavenly Honey wildflower honey. I estimate this one will hit 13% alcohol. Unfortunately, the hot fermentation left some less desirable flavors. I will try to figure out some heavy spice mix to cope with that.
It is currently in carboy #5.
Batch #3a and #3b: Six Gallons – Random Cider
I see I got very, very lazy about recording the last two batches this year. Here it is months later and all I know is the starting SG of each batch because I wrote it on a sticky note and put it on the carboy. Starting SG was 1.054 or about 7% alcohol potential.
June 27th, 2014
The cider was completely dry, settled and largely clarified. I split it into two batches and put it into three gallon carboys. This batch of cider is kind of boring with a simple flavor profile.
Batch #3a: Three Gallons – Cider with Molasses
Added one quart of organic blackstrap molasses to 2.75 gallons of cider. I heated the molasses with three quarts (carefully measured) of cider just enough to mix completely. Pitched Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast. The SG on the one gallon was 1.110. I will play with that number later and figure out how to derive a PPPG number for the molasses. After combining the full mixture, the SG was 1.035, enough to add 4.5% alcohol for a total of 11.5%.
It is currently in carboy A.
Batch #3b: Three Gallons – Cider with Molasses
Added one quart of organic blackstrap molasses to 2.75 gallons of cider, as above. SG was 1.035, enough to add 4.5% alcohol for a total of 11.5%. Pitched Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast.
It is currently in carboy B.
Batch #4: Six Gallons – Random Cider
Another random cider batch that I failed to record information for. This one had a starting SG of 1.056, or 7.5% alcohol potential. This batch may have undergone malolactic fermentation. This is not something I normally want to happen, since malic acid is part of the green apple flavor profile, but all of the 2013 cider batches came out somewhat simple and boring. Malolactic fermentation converts malic acid to lactic acid and gives a smoother, less acidic feel. That is probably not a bad thing for this cider.
June 28th, 2014
Added approximately 1/2 gallon Heavenly Honey wildflower honey. The honey has been sitting around for a while and has crystallized, so it took extra work to melt it down without using much heat. It hit about 120 degrees, which is hotter than I normally like. It took a lot of stirring to dissolve all the bits. Ultimately I ended up dumping the last few crystallized bits into the carboy. I expect they’ll break down once the yeast gets frisky. I estimate that this is enough honey to put this batch around 12% alcohol.
It is currently in carboy #3.