As I have progressed through the past four years of architecture school I have come to the realization that my hobbies are few and don’t branch out far from my field(s) of study. About a year ago, I first heard my Dad mention that his father used to make hard cider on his farm. Since then, the idea of fermenting my own cider grew slowly in grew in the back of my mind. Finally, on October 12th 2018, I made the decision to take the first step and bought a “fermentation kit” from Lain’s Cider Mill in Canisteo, New York.
A friend told me that he saw hard cider on Lain’s website, so we went to the cider mill to inquire. I was told by the owner that he doesn’t have a license to sell alcohol yet, but can sell kits for individuals to make their own alcohol. A few days later I went back and asked for the three gallon “kit.”
I was brought inside the mill to wait and observe the process. Lain family members from three generations worked the front counter, pressed apple pulp into juice and fried sweet apple cider doughnuts. Mr. Lain himself assembled the kit for me, starting by mixing non-alcoholic cider with sugar in a large pot, and heating the mixture on the stove. Added to the sugar infused cider was more cider and a package of champagne yeast which is expected to yield an alcohol content by volume of 18-20% . Now all I have to do is watch the “gauge” on top of the glass carboy (container) for bubbles for the next 6-8 months.
The decision to ferment my own cider is both a long chemical process as well as a long term investment in my education. My goal is to continue experimenting with different apple types, amounts and types of sugars, yeast varieties, temperatures, batch volumes, and fermentation duration. This is my first new hobby since picking up golf last fall and is hopefully one I will continue to enjoy, learn from, and possibly make a small business out of someday.
As a result of bringing home this cider, I also gained some more insight from my father’s and late grandfather’s fermentation experimentation as well as stories about cows eating too many old apples, having them ferment in their four stomachs, then causing them to fall down and run into other cows out of intoxication! (acidosis, although sometimes funny, is a real concern for farmers)
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