Very late in the apple season I decided to make a wild cider. And with wild I mean, not pasteurized juice. Since it was already late in season I managed to get enough kilograms and at least 5 different varieties of apples. Thanks to friends and family who had apple trees in their backyard. The only requirement I had was no pesticide.
Next challenge was finding a place to use an apple mill and a fruit press, because I don’t own any of this equipment. Luckily for me the guys from Nevel Artisan Ales where kind enough to open their doors for me and allowing me to use their equipment. Thanks a lot guys! If you ever visit Nijmegen, make sure to visit their new taproom.
After a day of milling and pressing I ended up with approximately 50 liters of juice. A bigger yield then I expected. I inoculated the the three different fermenters with different yeast;
– Cider #1 WLP616 Funky Cider Blend
– Cider #2 Bjorn Kveik (Hornindal)
– Cider #3 WLP616 Funky Cider Blend (which I will ferment on a higher temperature then #1)
And remember that all these batches contain the wild yeast from the apples itself.
And no, not all cider makers work this way. Most of the commercial available ciders are made with clean fermentation (mono-strain). But cider making has a long history of wild and spontaneous fermentation. In some regions over the world they still work with this kind of fermentation and it’s making a comeback. People who know me in person know that I like wild and sour beers. So it may not be a surprise that I’m aiming for a wild and sour (tart) cider. Unlike beer, cider has a Malolactic Fermentation (MLF). This fermentation stage convert malic acid to lactic acid. However, cider can get funky, like beer, with the presence of alternative microbes during primary or secondary fermentation.
Since I did not pasteurize the juice, we are talking about ‘Mixed Culture Fermentation’.
Fig. 1 Malolactic fermentation explained.
The fermentation of cider happens in three phases:
1. Oxidative phase
Occurs due to the presence of apiculate or non-Saccharomyces yeast and is usually only seen with wild fermented ciders, and is responsible for the production of aromatic and flavor compounds
2. Alcoholic phase
which mainly Saccharomyces spp. out compete the oxidative phase yeast species and carryout out the bulk of the fermentation
3. Malolactic fermentation phase
Which malic acid is converted to lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The main impact of MLF on cider is likely to be seen in de-acidification, as malic acid is a stronger acid than lactic acid, and the conversion will increase pH and change the perception of acidity
Because I did inoculate my cider it’s unlikely that I will have any oxidative phase due to a lack of apiculate or non-Saccharomyces yeast. If I went with a spontaneous fermentation it was very likely that this phase took place.
Milk the funk