I had a chance to put the last five gallons of cider into bottles this week. This was our first year giving this old art a try, and it was a lot of fun. A bin of apples, a mix of fuji and jonagolds, was delivered in October, courtesy of one of the friendly orchardists we know here in Yakima. He also delivered an old-fashioned cider press, including a pulp mill! We decided to make a family event out of it, making cider for the kids' birthday party. Fresh-pressed apple cider is really a great treat.
But for Mom and Dad, hard cider is a nice treat, too. We took about 17 gallons of the pressed juice and set it aside for fermentation. It was treated with SO2, some yeast nutrient, and an acid blend, and then an English Cider yeast was pitched into the juice. It fermented for several weeks, and was racked a couple of times to clarify it. Pressed in late October, the first batches were bottled and set out as gifts for Christmas.
I did keep one 5 gallon carboy in the closet for the last 4 months, and finally got around to bottling it last night. The cider was siphoned into the bottling bucket, then corn sugar was added to provide for carbonation in the bottles. I really like swing-top bottles and used some large ones to hold this stuff. I sampled it along the way and am pretty pleased with it. There are a couple of things I'd change the next time around, but it is certainly a very drinkable cider.