Tuesday, September 26, 2017

By-products of cider making, 2017

Apple pulp into vinegar, September 2017
I've been determined to use all five of my demi-johns for cider this year.  Last year we only managed a paltry one!  Let's be honest, 4 L of cider is not enough to last us a whole year until the next apple season:  we need a full 20 L.

This year, instead of composting all that leftover apple pulp from juicing, I've been experimenting with it.  For the first batch of two demi-johns, I collected around 8 L of pulp into some plastic ice cream tubs from my work, in order to make apple cider vinegar.  I filled the tubs with water and covered them with a cloth and left them on my counter.

Every day I gave them a stir and re-covered them.  After about a week, they were really bubbly!  They bubbled and fizzed for another two weeks or so;  once they stopped, I noticed the pulp had sunk to the bottom (it had floated on top until then).  At this point I strained it out through a cheesecloth overnight, making sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible the next morning.  I tasted the pulp to make sure--and it was indeed flavorless now:  time to compost it.

I was surprised at how much liquid there was after all the pulp was gone--about 7 L.  The liquid was alcoholic at this point, but as I wanted vinegar, I kept it loosely covered, and continued to stir it every day, and tasting the spoon after.  It's getting there!

I got around 7 L apple pulp from the second batch, and it all went into the slow cooker, topped up with water.  My slow cooker is I think technically 6.5 L, and it was filled to the absolute top--I couldn't fit in much water.  I cooked it on low for several hours, stirring a couple times, then pushed the cooked pulp through my food mill to strain out any seeds.  I bottled it up while hot and processed it in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes, as plain unsweetened apple sauce.  It turned out very thick and smooth, and will be useful for apple crumble and other winter desserts.

To use up the pulp from the third batch (another single demi-john) I'm attempting apple jelly today.  Yesterday I cooked the pulp with water in my slow cooker until the chunky bits were soft (took about two hours).  I had to do it in two batches, as the full amount wouldn't fit all at once.  I drained the first batch through a cheesecloth-lined colander while the second batch cooked, then drained the rest overnight.  Today I'll cook it with sugar and hopefully bottle it and process it like the applesauce.  I've never made jelly before, so here's hoping for a success;  if it's not, I'm not too worried:  cider's the important thing after all.

That's four demi-johns of cider, and no more apples.  Maybe we need to make one more foray into the hedgerows and fill up the last one.  And the pulp?  Probably compost for that one...

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