Making Cider in the Old days

Discussion in 'Beer & Ale' started by gnubee, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A member asked me how I used to make cider. Well its been almost 50 years since I made any and my Granddad used to guide us through it each year but here's my reply to the member in question.

    quote=Hog Warden]I have access to a bunch of "drops", along with fresh squeezed apple cider. How does one go about making a drinkable hooch from apples?
    Add a little yeast to the cider and stand back?
    (Have not made any for a long time, but I used to make my own I have a basic understanding of the fundamentals, just not which yeast, etc).[/quote]

    Granddad had several oak barrels that he got from the local cannery for $2.50 each back then. We would get some large lumps of pure sulphur found beside the railroad tracks in abundance. You'd scour the barrel and hose it out. Then put a brick in the bottom and place the sulphur in a tin can with the lid cut off. It was a golf ball size lump of the yellow sulphur that would burn for about a half hour. We put the lid on the barrel but leave the bung hole open. The sulphur burnt with a clear flame you couldn't see. Let the sulphur burn out leaving the barrel free of any living thing including yeasts and moulds. For gods sakes never smell the sulphur coming out of that bung hole. Very dangerous stuff. You were in effect killing any sour vinegar yeasts that would ruin your cider. We had a cider press for crushing the apples. We preferred winesaps, newtons and Johnathons for apples but really would put any type of apple in there that the orchardists would give us free. We always went back after the brew was done with a free gallon of hard cider for the Orchardists. We had a 120 foot long triple row of raspberries that gave us 100s of pounds of berries all the time, we could never use or sell all the berries we had so we'd crush them too and add them to the apple juice. that gave it better flavour and a nicer color. It took forever to press and fill a 45 gallon oak keg and us kids got the job because it was our cider. We bought wine vinegar from a chocolate shop in town to start the brew going. When it was going good we'd siphon off a couple of cupfuls of the yeasty ( is that a word ) brew to use as starter for the next batch. You could keep that yeast batch going for the whole fall season only buying one bag of yeast each year. If the juice wasn't sweet enough, we'd Use a floating gauge to test the sugar, We'd add sugar to the mix.
    Granddad had some fermentation seals that fit in the bung to let out the air bubbles and keep out the fruit flies. Fruit flies can cause cider and wine to turn to vinegar. We never lost a barrel.
    When it was fully fermented we'd bung it for about a month to get rid of any yeasty taste. All this was done in our root cellar which was about a 500 square foot. Hole in the ground covered with large logs a 2 foot layer of dirt and planted with grass on the top. In the hottest summer days it was always cool down there. We bottled it in gallon jugs we got from A&W. The owner was throwing out about a 100 of them one day. I noticed him pitching them into the trash and asked him for them. He even went into the store and found us a bag of new caps for them. We sold our hard cider for $2.00 a gallon that was back when you could buy the cheapest wine at the liquor store for about $1.50. Our audience/customer base was the younger crowd from my school that weren't allowed into the liquor store yet. If you catch my drift....
    I don't know exactly which wine yeast my Granddad and My Dad bought, I was around 14-17 when I made cider and such details didn't matter to me. Any good wine yeast should do though.
    I sure miss the harvest parties when the last of the apples were safely in the packing house, everyone got paid off. We'd have a big beach party with a huge bon fire and all the workers got drunk on cider they bought from us and we helped them drink it. I made more money selling cider at that party each year than I did picking apples all fall.
    Thats my memory of making apple cider. We made all types of wine in season, raspberry,choke cherry, apricot, cherry, blackberry, elderberry Which I thought tasted like fuel oil. Even sugar beet wine which was really nice tasting. We got all this stuff for free.

    In Peach season we'd sneak over to the cannery at night. They had a huge hopper filled with peach pits and peach skins that driped a steady stream of peach juice. They would dump this mess every couple of days our so into large dump trucks and take the pits to the dump. Us kids could gather at least 20 gallons of peach juice every night by standing under that hopper with some buckets gathering that juice. The cannery wasted hundreds and hundreds of gallons of peach juice every day of peach season. We were the ultimate re-cyclers in those days and were way ahead of our time. [​IMG] 

    PS. Most fruit wines including the cider we made could be greatly improved by fortifying them with vodka to make a crude sort of snapps.
  2. oneshot

    oneshot Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Is yer real name....Al Key Holic?????

    I'm ignoring you........rotflmao
  3. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for sharing those great memories Gnu....and ways of making cider. Excellent!

  4. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No its Cash Crop

    PS I'm ignoring you back and for that matter I'm ignoring you front too .....

    PPS We called the road thru the orchard that ended on the border..... what else Thunder Road!
  5. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Kool story Roger, thanks for sharing it with I need to get some apples.
  6. Thanks so much for sharing that info! I really enjoyed reading it.

    I am an avid homebrewer, mainly beer, but I have dabbled in cider.

    My best batch was from fresh pressed cider from a local guy. I added a bunch of local honey (4 lbs, IIRC) and did it on wine yeast (montracht red star) After a year it was amazing... heck of a kick too with all the honey.

    There is a cult following for a recipe called apfelwein over on the brewing board I frequent...

    I do this version:

    5 Gallons 100% Apple Juice (No preservatives or additives)
    2 pounds of brown sugar
    1 packet of Nottingham Ale Yeast

    It takes it about a month to ferment out and I like it aged at least 3 months.

    It is not nearly as good as what you are talking about... but it can make a great fall party hooch!
  7. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading it...[​IMG]
  8. the iceman

    the iceman Smoking Fanatic

    Damn GB. Make up a batch of that stuff, throw it in a keg & I'll be your best friend. [​IMG]
  9. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Awesome Read Roger...felt like i was next to you the whole time....

    Thanks for the recipe.I am gonna try this!!!!
  10. hookup

    hookup Smoke Blower

    Thanks for sharing brewing cider in the old dayz.

    Allot easier now isn't it.

    chefmike - replace that brown sugar with 3-4 pounds of honey and you'll have a zyser.

    And be careful, stuff is strong.
  11. daddyzaring

    daddyzaring Smoking Fanatic

    Really good read, too bad there's no qview. [​IMG]
  12. nwpadude

    nwpadude Newbie

    i agree, great story. i may have to try some out.
  13. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I enjoyed that ...Thanks...
  14. biggeorge50

    biggeorge50 Fire Starter

    My brother and I make a barrel every year. I buy a 50 gallon whiskey barrel full of cider from a local orchard in October. We add 20# of brown sugar and a gallon of honey, no yeast. Run a tube from the bung to a gallon jar full of water for an air lock/bubbler. In late May or early June we put in something (I don't know what, my brother gets it) to keep it from turning to vinegar. Put a solid bung in, drive the tap in, and enjoy it. That stuff sure makes our wives mean - imagine what they would be like if they drank some!

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