Farm Time Hard Cider

Well this is wholly unexpected post for a number of different reasons, the main being that I actually have something to show for an entirely last-minute experiment in October of last year (2015) when I decided to ferment some of the sweet cider that Heart’s Content Farm presses from the five ancient resident apple trees. There was honestly only about 2 minutes of thought put into the whole thing, and so to say the least I am very pleased with how it turned out.

The apple trees that we have on the property are each of an unknown variety. It is reasonably likely that since these trees are quite old (at the very least 50 or 60 if not older) that they may hold unique genetic material that are less commonly grown for commercial production. Each tree produces apples of extraordinary variety from small, incredibly sweet yellow apples with a pulpy texture to large red and green streaked apples with a nice sweet and tart balance that stay crisp for long periods.

Consequently, all of this diversity makes for some absolutely exceptional cider. Very diverse flavour palate indeed. It is a pleasure to drink on it’s own, or warmed up on the stove with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. If my memory serves me correctly, we had between 50-60 litres of cider pressed last fall. We most certainly could have produced at least twice as much as we did but that would have been if we collected all of the apples.

Only 2 litres out of the 50-60 litres of sweet cider ended up being fermented, which now that I am aware what the final product is like was undoubtedly a shame. The rest was either consumed fresh or frozen and sold at farmer’s markets or featured in CSA shares for a very limited time. At the beginning of November, I discovered one last bag of cider in the back of the fridge and so decided to use this remainder as my test subject.

My technique for this recipe is as simple and bottom-line as you can possibly get. This cider is unfiltered and unpasteurized and I didn’t even pasteurize it before adding the 3 grams or so of Champagne yeast to the cider inside of a 1/2 gallon growler. I merely took the bag of cider out of the fridge, poured it into the growler, let it warm up to room temperature and then added the yeast. I capped the growler, shook it around vigorously for a few seconds and then replaced the cap with airlock.

Then, as if a home brewer could not get any more careless or neglectful (although not on purpose) I proceeded to forget about this growler which sat in a cupboard for a full 3 months in an old unheated farmhouse. Upon returning to the house yesterday afternoon, I discovered the growler and promptly swapped the airlock for a cap and chilled it in the fridge. Although it isn’t carbonated I don’t really mind all that much.

The cider has a wonderful sweet and a tart balance with some apricot and peach flavours in there as well. Very robust but easy going and not something you’ll get bored of after a few sips, or indeed even a few glasses. I wish I could afford to drink a few glasses of this every once and a while, but there’s really only enough for 2 pints total probably. This taste test has made me absolutely committed to producing more of this delicious beverage in the future.