One of our former members was studying for a degree in brewing in Heriot Watt university. He wrote this brief guide of how to make cider on a small scale. He’s had some success stories in the past, and we have followed his method at times (using step 3).
Picking->Storing->Washing & quality control->Milling/grinding->(Macerating)->Pressing->go to 1,2 or 3
1->Pasteurisation or equivalent->Adding yeast->Fermenting->Bottling
2->No pasteurisation but no keeving->Adding yeast/Adding sulphur->Fermenting->Bottling
Some of the terms explained:
“Quality control”: Only the best apples should be turned into cider. In this step you rank out the totally manky and mummified apples.
“Macerating”: After the apple has been broken into pomace, the pomace can be let to sit for a few hours to let colour and flavour develop. This is mostly due to oxidation of tannins and volatiles in the apple flesh. If you’re going to keeve, this step is also useful as it helps the pectin methyl esterase (PME) enzyme develop and seep into the juice.
“Pasteurisation”: Rapid heat treatment that kills virtually all microbes present in the juice. This path is the most typical one in mainstream/bulk cider production, as it produces the most consistent final product.
“Keeving”: A process where the juice starts to ferment slowly and the developing carbon dioxide floats the pectin mass on top of juice. The pectin mass binds nutrients, creating a nutrient-poor juice that will ferment slowly. The pectin mass develops, when pectin methyl esterase (PME), chops off parts of the pectin and these gaps are then replaced by calcium, rendering the pectin insoluble in water. Not all juices will keeve properly and this can be aided by adding PME and calcium chloride. Yeast is typically not added, but the microbes in the juice will ferment the juice. SO2 can be added to kill some of the bacteria. This method used to be common in England, but is nowdays used mostly in France (Normandy & Bretagne).
“No pasteurisation but no keeving”: The juice retains the natural microbes that will take part in the fermenting of sugar into alcohol. Yeast can be added, and sulphur in the form of potassium metabisulphite (SO2) can be added – and typically is added – to kill bacteria from the juice. This is the typical method used in modern English craft cider.