Marmalade Competitions and Cider Experiments

Marmalade awards
Last week an envelope came through the door – the results of the Marmalade Awards. I had entered my Seville into the Dark and Chunky category, and the pink grapefruit and Campari into the Merry. In the end, I got a silver for the Dark and Chunky and a bronze for the Merry.

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There was some useful feedback on the flavour and presentation. I obviously need to pay more attention to my filling technique. Next year, maybe I’ll manage a gold.

Cider experiments
One of my university assignments is to put together a guide to information resources for a specific area of interest. Given that W and I have been getting to grips with home brewing and home wine-making in the last year, I thought that a guide for home-brewers would be a good topic. ONce ou start looking, it’s amazing what’s out there. I’ve been looking through every home brewing book I could find, watching YouTube videos, reading blogs and listening to podcasts.
All of this research has been making me eager to start brewing again. I’ve been concentrating on wine up till now, and all my wine has been made with foraged fruits. As foraged fruit is in short supply at the moment, and it will be a few more weeks (or months) till the elderflowers appear, I’ve got three demijohns sitting around begging to be used so I decided to experiment with some CIDER!
I’ve read a variety of recipes, ranging from those whose ingredient list has been as simple as “apples” to others which include apple juice, honey, pectolase, tannin…. I decide to take the middle ground and ended up with

4 litres apple juice – NOT from concentrate
1 cup of brewers sugar
1 sachet yeast*
1/8 tsp yeast nutrient

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* As this was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, the yeast had to be whatever I could get in the local branch of Lakeland. They currently had univeral wine yeast and beer yeast. I bought one of each. For this batch, I’ve used the wine yeast, but I’ll be trying the beer yeast for the next batch. A lot of the recipes I’ve read have used champagne yeast, so I might try that next. And apparently if you press your own apples for juice, there is enough yeast on the skins and in the air so that you don’t need to add any more.

After sterilising all the equipment, I poured 3.5 litres of juice into the demijohn. I dissolved the sugar and yeast nutrient into the remaining 0.5l and then added this to the rest. I then bunged in the yeast, added the airlock and waited for the magic to happen.
After a slow start, the fermentation took off. It bubbled up to such an extent, I wondered if the yeast was going to escape through the airlock. Its now calmed down, but you can see how far up the demijohn the mixture got.

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It’s still fermenting quite vigorously. I think I’ll give it a few more days and then rack it off into a new demijohn for secondary fermentation, which will be in a darker cooler area. After about two weeks, it should be ready to bottle. Given the experience with beer, I should then wait for about a month before trying it. I’ll let you know how it tastes.