Nic and I have made an informal list of things we’d like to accomplish in Montana. The list includes; camping more, making sourdough starter (and keeping it alive) and making home brew. After a long period in which we wondered if Gallatin County had any brewing supply stores, we embarked a short and fruitful trip to Belgrade Liquor where Frank helped us out in purchasing all we needed to get started making hard apple cider. We left with a bucket, a carboy, a fermentation lock and several other brewing accouterments.
Step one, complete.
Step two was to acquire apple cider. We were searching for the authentic thing. We didn’t quite want to settle for store-bought cider, we were willing to scavenge, glean and gather all the apples we could. After questioning neighbors and co-workers regarding the whereabouts to the best apple trees (my boss gave me the combination to her garage so that I could access her back yard and her apples). We once again, embarked on a shorter and even more fruitful (literally) trip to Rocky Creek Farms, just outside of Bozeman. They no only had crates of apples, but these crates of apples were located a short distance from a barn which, conveniently, housed an apple press!
The apple press is quite the contraption- it conveys the apples up to an apple crusher that pulverizes the apples and dispenses them onto a conveyor belt, which then conveys the apple mush through a series of squishing and then pours the phase-1 cider into a skive for the first stage of filtering. The second stage of filtering sent the cider upstairs through a secondary filtering device and came out of a tap directly bottled into half-gallon containers.
I should add that the above photo looks a bit messy- sticky would be another word to describe the apple-press room. There was also lots of pulp, foam and chunks. Still, the amount of liquid that you can get out of apples is sort-of impressive. We accidentally ended up with 10 gallons of apple cider- twice as much as were were originally hoping for.
That was okay though. Fresh un-pasteurized cider might be the best tasting thing ever (mulled cider following a close second). Step two was now complete.
Step three was completed last week, as we ‘sterilized’ the cider with campden tablets to inhibit the growth of wild yeast and certain bacteria. After a few days, we added the yeast, stuck a fermentation lock on the carboy and also a T-shirt (because direct light is not great for yeast).