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OrionMead
03-27-2011, 11:59 PM
Greetings!

I started brewing about three weeks ago. I started an orange/raisin mead (2 gallon batch at start, only had about 1.5 gallons when I racked it due to all of the sediment on the bottom and my fear of getting that into the secondary). We tasted it, and it was "alright", except that I learned the lesson of not letting it sit on the counter for three weeks...has a funky smell to it (well, like "bad oranges"). I decided NOT to dump it out, and instead added some fresh oranges and some honey into the secondary after it was racked...hopefully that funky smell will go away.

And thus I've learned that everything shall go into the back of the pantry, covered by other stuff ;-)

My wife was asking if I would attempt to make an "apple tasting mead", so I said "Sure, I think it's called a Cyser, and well...we're already at the store!" and yanked up a giant bag of green "Granny Smith" apples (I find the taste to be better with those than other greens).

I have about 20 lbs of Clover honey sitting in the pantry (4x 5 lbs containers), and about 3 lbs of Orange Blossom honey. I was thinking of warming up the water/honey, chopping up the apples (or even just mashing them up into applesauce and pouring that in), and then adding the yeast and seeing how it went.

I'm just afraid of the apples "going bad".

For instance, if I mash the apples up, won't it just sit at the bottom with the lees and probably have it's apple-taste counteracted with yeast husk flavored apple? :eek: If I just slice the apples up into 1/8ths, over time won't they basically turn INTO apple sauce, being so soaked with water in a cool place?

I would use Apple Cider or Apple Juice with it...but I've already got the apples, so I wanted to just go ahead with it. Planning the same things with strawberries tonight, also!

Any suggestions on the cyser?

akueck
03-28-2011, 12:23 AM
Hi Orion and Welcome to GotMead!

First, what about your counter makes you think it contributed to the "funky" smell? Was it a particularly warm/bright space? Just curious...

As for apples, they have loads of fiber. Mashing them up and mixing them into your must will generate a lot of gunk that you'll have to rack off of. If you can juice the apples first, you'll save yourself some annoyance later. Most cysers are made with pressed apple juice rather than whole/chunked apples.

In general you want to limit the exposure to the fruit solids to not more than a couple weeks, even less for some fruits prone to oxidation (strawberries). When the fruit loses its color, you can rack off it.

OrionMead
03-28-2011, 01:12 AM
Thanks for replying, Akueck!

I didn't read about leaving the must in a "cool, dark place" until two weeks into the fermentation...so for those two weeks, it was sitting on the kitchen counter. I live in Arizona (about 30 minutes from the Mexican border, up in the mountains south of Tucson), so it can get down to the 40's in the winter, and up into the low 100's in the summer fairly easily. It's been a steady 70-80 degrees or so over the past couple of weeks, so pretty warm.

At any rate, the window that the must jugs were facing got a good couple of hours of sunlight (they face the sunrise). Combined that with the house being a little warm (young children, they hate the cold, so perhaps around 85 degrees average in the house), I thought that it might have been "rotting" the oranges more than simple fermentation would have.

Then again, if I'm wrong, great! It smelled and had an aftertaste of oragnes left to sit in the sun for a good bit of time...but this is my FIRST ever brewing of ANYTHING, so I'm not really certain on what to expect from the must at this point (or the tasting when racking). I've seen videos on youtube and read posts from people all across the internet where they said it "tasted exquisit" or "fantastic" during racking...which lead me to believe that either they are insane and love rotten fruit, or perhaps I did something wrong ;-) (probably the latter).

The orange/raisin (similar to JAO, with a few differences) was racked on Friday of last week (3/25/2011), and is now in glass 1 gallon carboys. It's doing well, the fermentation has slowed a bit since the primary, but the balloons that I'm using until my airlocks and proper equipment get in are still inflating well. It hasn't clarified yet, and I DO have a few chunks of orange that slipped through my siphoning hose (ultra-sanitzed, brand-new fish pump tube...siphon started by mouth, ala "stealing gas from cars" method). Hopefully that's not a bad thing, or I might go ahead and re-rack it.

I would use a wine-bag (not sure what they're called) that holds the fruit, and just sort of mash everything up and stuff it in there...but I don't have one of those, and my must "bucket" won't be here for another week or two...so just using plastic milk cartons/glass carboys (1 gallon wine jugs from wal-mart...$10 cheap-nasty wine, but the jugs last forever!).

I've got that "itch" to brew a different flavor every day...just hate the amount of time it takes, and my lack of knowledge on the subject (slowly fixing that latter part!)

Chevette Girl
03-28-2011, 01:59 AM
I've seen videos on youtube and read posts from people all across the internet where they said it "tasted exquisit" or "fantastic" during racking...which lead me to believe that either they are insane and love rotten fruit, or perhaps I did something wrong ;-) (probably the latter).

I find it depends on the fruit and the stage of fermentation... I like the taste of my musts when they're just starting to develop alcohol and there's still a lot of sweetness, then after the yeasties have eaten most of the sugar, it's gross-tasting for at least a couple of months... Some people like the fermented fruit (ie, on ice cream, etc) but I don't unless I sweeten it. But then again, everyone's taste is different, there is no one right answer :)

Oh, and about a fruit bag? When you get your bucket, a clean (new!) pillowcase tied shut will do the trick. So will sewing two cotton tea towels together and tying the top with sanitized cord. I run mine through the washing machine with the towel load and then boil them in water just before I use them. Makes dealing with fruit inifinitely easier.

OrionMead
03-28-2011, 02:41 AM
Oh, and about a fruit bag? When you get your bucket, a clean (new!) pillowcase tied shut will do the trick. So will sewing two cotton tea towels together and tying the top with sanitized cord. I run mine through the washing machine with the towel load and then boil them in water just before I use them. Makes dealing with fruit inifinitely easier.

That...is fan-friggin-tastic! Thanks for that tip!

So, I just got done with the strawberry mead (mellomel?) and green apple mead (cyser?). They haven't started fermenting yet, but I used some Lalvin D-47 that I ordered last week and your everyday unfiltured/pure Clover honey.

As soon as I poured the yeasties into the mix (both of them), I got lots and lots of bubbles, so I'm glad that they're at least doing something!

Anyhoo, I now have 3 of these 1 gallon carboys, and 2 were being used for the aforementioned orange/raisin mead, which (after racking) only took up about 1 jug and 2/5 of the other jug. So I just "re-racked" the jug that was only 2/5 full and put it into a 1 gallon spring-water jug (sanitized), and then cleaned and re-used the glass carboy for my apple mead.

Of course, when moving my orange/raisin mead into the jug...I had to pour a glass! It didn't stink like it did 3 days ago when I was pouring it, and I wondered if it tasted any different after sitting WITHOUT the fruit hanging around in it.

WOW! It's like a ...semi-bubbly orange vodka beer...? It's hard to describe, but very delicious. I noticed I had some yeast husks/sediment/whatever floating in it, so I poured my glass into another glass, through a coffee filter, and enjoyed it like that. :D

I'm extremely tempted to bottle this, and take it over to a friend's house for a "pre-tasting" of what it will be like in a couple of months (it's only been 3 weeks, lol)!

I told my wife the other day that I found a "hobby" in mead making. I'm not a handyman (unless I'm working with electronics or networks, as per my profession), but I think I finally found something that gets me away from the PC and "doing something".

I'll definitely have to try the pillow-case trick!

mmclean
03-28-2011, 11:38 AM
Hi OrionMead,

Welcome to GOTMEAD?

For a "winebag" you can use a paint strainer from Loews, Home Depot ect. They come in 1 or 5 gallons. Cheap and reuseable.

OrionMead
03-28-2011, 03:12 PM
mmclean,

Thanks for that suggestion! I was planning a Lowes/HD run later this afternoon to see if they had any 5 gallon buckets that I could use for must ;-)

I have a "wine making kit" that I ordered online that has something like a 6.5 or 7 gallon fermentation bucket, with a 6 gallon glass carboy...but honestly, I would love to have two going at the same time (10 gallons worth of mead, yay!), and then during racking to secondary try a bunch of different recipes.

The Green-Apple mead from last night pretty much went insane, by the way! Four hours after I had added the yeast and given it a quick shake, nothing had happened. 4 hours after that (8 hours into it), my air lock (balloon, haha) was nearly about to pop! I had poked a hole in it, but it obviously wasn't large enough! So it's going very well about now.

The Strawberry mead had it's balloon standing upright, but that was about it. This one seems to be a tad bit slower, but we'll see how it goes throughout the rest of today.

Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I'll end up using those ideas when I rack to secondary, to add more fruit if needed!

Cheers!