What can I do with my meh cider? I think it's dull because it's made from commercial/table apples. The best ciders I've tasted have involved wild apples. I used champagne yeast, so at least it's dry, but its taste profile is flat and thin. Even carbonation wouldn't save it. My vinometer just arrived so I'm going to test the ABV; it "does the job" but that's not my aim.
Can I referment it with something interesting, like blackberries, huckleberries or rhubarb? Can I distill it into applejack? God forbid it could only be vinegared, what would I do with all that vinegar
Applejack is traditionally made by freezing the water in the cider and reserving the unfrozen alcoholic fractions. That's really easy to do if you have an unheated storage area during a sub-zero winter.
There is concern over dangerous alcohols remaining in the applejack made using this process, so it might be worthwhile looking into procedures involving staged distillation.
Some other things you might consider are secondary fermentation. You'd need to add more sugars, like from fruit or honey, or refined sources, but you could add one of the popular cultivated secondary fermentation yeasts, like Brettanomyces, to produce a funky sour craft cider.
Similarly, you could try dry-hopping some, or flavouring test batches with different flavour adjuncts, such as fruit or spices.
It depends on where your preferences lie.
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The trouble with apples is the malic acid, and other components that make the apples interesting ferment off. Yes, you could distill it. At least there would be less of it after distilling. I have made mead with the addition of black tea for bitterness and lemon for acid. Similarly, you could add ingredients for bitterness and acid. Champaign yeast is persistent so it takes a good deal of racking and aging to get rid of the yeast flavor and really taste what you have made.
My first suggestion is apple cider vinegar! It may turn out wonderful and be far better than any store bought kind. The other option you mentioned, distilling it, is certainly another way to go. That could potentially turn out delicious as well.
Perhaps do a little of both. I know what you mean about having 12 gallons of vinegar on hand, that's a lot. But ACV is really wonderful stuff, with a lot of health benefits for both people and animals as well. I put about a tablespoon in my 3 gallon chicken fount when I fill it.
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Chris, secondary fermentation was my first thought, and I love sour beers (sour anything really) so a sour cider sounds like the way to go. I just got the New Cider Maker's Handbook and couldn't find anything helpful in the index, surprisingly. I'll have to take a longer look because I have no idea how to do this and don't want to spoil cider I've put so much work into, and which could be something so tasty if done right.
Haha David, I know someone with a scientific still, but he's the most in-demand farmer in the area. He doesn't even have time to play with it, though he said he's made a couple things. He's who pressed the cider for me and got me started with campden tablets. Chris is right, I don't want to go blind, I don't love applejack THAT much.
James, I'm sure some will go to ACV. I find more uses for that every day! My favorite is as an antifreeze additive to critters' water. A couple tablespoons in a chicken waterer and bunny bottles kept the water flowing even at 15 deg F. They were uncertain of the taste at first but either learned to love it or thought "hell, this is the only water going round here" and buckled down.
I wonder how long it will keep though...I don't see any time to put a lot of effort into saving it any time soon.