Friday, 14 November 2008

Yum Yum

Spent an enjoyable hour or two late this afternoon checking and topping up the tubs of slowly fermenting cider in t' Cider Shed.

The recent cold weather has certainly ensured a slow and steady fermentation in the metal shed; the tubs of cider were dripping with condensation and that is with an air temperature of around 12 celsius. Still, makes for a better, deeper flavour at the end - I hope...

Of course when checking that all is well, you have to have a sniff and a taste, so I entered armed with a large "wine thief" which I picked up in Ross-on-Wye during our visit for the Ross-on-Wye Cider Festival. A wine thief is a shaped glass tube, open at both ends, that you immerse into your wine or cider; as the liquid fills the empty space inside the tube, air is displaced out of the top. When you have enough liquid inside the thief, you put your finger or thumb over the top, so closing the open end and creating a vacuum. Then all you need to do is lift out your 'stolen' liquid and release the vacuum over a suitable glass.

After working my way through all 12 tubs, I can happily report that all is well. The earliest started cider, a blend of our windfalls, all our Tom Putts and a donated sack of John Downie crabs, is really quite dry already. The tannins from the crabs have given it a somewhat harsh bitterness, but then these are early days and this batch will be blended over the next four or five months as it matures, and approaches the time of the calls of the first cuckoos.

All of the tubs are working away quite happily without airlocks, but I am looking forward to the delivery of the bungs and airlocks arriving which I ordered from Brouwland in Belgium. It doesn't seem right to have anything fermenting without an airlock. Anyway, I miss the satisfying - soothing? - sound of a series of air-locks gently 'plopping' away.

Did you know each bubble from an airlock has resulted in an equal weight of alcohol being released into the cider?

Tomorrow we are off to the Hempsall Heritage Orchard to collect more windfalls for more cider. I must get my backside in gear and order more tubs...

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