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Part 2 of Something is Brewing!
Well the first leg of a long journey is over as the apples have met their maker! Officially made the first transfer into the primary fermenter (glorified bucket). The apples had gone in a couple of days from a apple pie type smell to a much more fermented smell. I would liken it to a cheap wine! The apples as well had begun to froth a bit in the pail showing some of the wild yeast present had taken effect on the fruit. Even with the pail sealed tightly the fruit can often have residue of wild yeast from the atmosphere. Couple that with life in an enclosed space and warm, wet conditions and the opportunity to grow is quick.
As you can see in this photo the water had softened the fruit nicely and the juice left over (admittedly I sampled a bit) tasted very similar to a weak, watered down apple juice, the kind you may give a toddler. I did test it though and there was a low grade alcohol content to the wort (raw juice) so I knew it was on the right track. After straining all the apples out and any sediment that may have fell in when peeling, or came off the apples I was ready to start adding ingredients. The juice left over from my apples had filled roughly half of a five gallon pail and was a faded amber colour as you can see in the photo below.
For the ingredients the original recipe called for 9 lemons sliced and juiced, a cup of black tea (for the tannins), 8kg of sugar, 1kg of golden raisins (chopped), warm water and cold water(which I substituted with a little concentrated apple juice (available at most any supermarket) as well as the water to top up. These were all added as per the original specification except for the sugar, which I took back by a kilogram to only add 7kg as the apple juice will increase the sweetness on its own. The supplies (including some of the chemicals and yeast) all cost in the area of $30 Canadian which is decent if this little experiment pays off.
Next up came the preparation (juicing) 9 lemons without inevitably getting it in your eyes or everywhere for that matter is trickier than you may think but we made a good go of it nonetheless. The lemons were juiced and added to the wort, the tea was made in a 7 0z. tea cup and added, the sugar was added as well as the chopped golden raisins. Give it a good stir and then add the water (or apple juice) making sure that all the ingredients are mixed up good and the sugar is dissolved in the liquid. This may take a couple of go arounds to make sure but it is imperative to have the sugar dissolve in the liquid as much of the fermentation process acts around reaction with the sugar and alcohol already present.
After all the ingredients are good and stirred comes the part where you add the store bought wine yeast. This can be purchased pretty well anywhere that you can purchase wine kits (I use Red Star in Canada) and comes in a little package about the size of a tea bag. Pour the yeast into your full pail or juice and give it a good stir as well. The yeast will naturally rise to the top along with any pulp that may have come off your lemons when juicing them.
Once you have this all nice and settled place the pail in a easily accessible place (as you will have to give it a stir twice daily) to keep the yeast active and not falling in your juice. Also ensure the lid is all snapped on tightly and let the process begin. Within a couple of hours you should see a bubbling beginning and the yeast going to work on your juice and sugar combination. If you notice the froth like the picture below(taken 8 hours after the transfer) it should be a good indicator you are on the right track with your home-made apple wine.