So what could one possibly do with 300-400lbs of apples from your yard – or perhaps your neighbor’s yard?! How much apple sauce or apple pie does one need? I propose the following solution: wine. My current estimate is that it takes about an hour to convert 100 lbs of apples into a carboy of juice – or about 2 cases of finished wine. So Saturday: 4 hrs of crush and press, roughly 4 finished carboys of wine, which will end up yielding about 10 cases of wine, or 120 bottles. Time well spent.
To take it a step further into economics-land, which I always tend to do, it’s important to note that results so far have been as good or better than commercially available fruit wines. So say $20/bottle. We pay a lot of tax on wine in Alberta, so I’d have to pay roughly $20 to meet or beat the quality I’m producing. Assuming I’m correct on that estimate, 120 bottles holds a value of roughly $2400. Since the fruit was free – not only free but somebody’s problem that they were raking and putting in the trash to get hauled off – the rate of return on input costs, even time included, is rather high, I’d say. [Add to that, the crusher/press setup I use is no excuse for barrier to entry – it’s a home-made deal that anybody with some initiative could slap together. I posted about it last year.]
I had some great help this year on crush day, and was able to take some good video as things played out. So rather than get into ‘how-to’, I’ll defer to the soon-to-be-posted video for you to have a look at how we do it. Perhaps you too could be making apple wine soon. No apples? No problem. Go pick with these folks to get hooked up with fruit that others need picked, and help out a charity while you’re at it. I love win-win-win-win-win stuff.
So, you do your fermentation in the carboys? Does the pressing do a magnificent job of removing mash from the must? We prefer the idea of fermenting in glass carboys vs. plastic primaries, but that neck can be a hassle (e.g. when measuring specific gravity).
P.S. I’ve been learning heavily about mead-making and already like to compare with wine-making, later perhaps a stab at beer. Ahem, and homebrew.
P.P.S We have to make good on our promises to send each other variety crates of stuff. Riches!
Awesome job Kevin, makes me wish I could find someone who was just going to throw that many apples out. If I may go ahead and answer Greg’s question: Yes, I’m almost positive Kevin does a primary ferment in the glass 6 gallon carbouys, thats what I do for all my wines, meads, beers, ciders as well. Dont let the small neck bother ya, just get a nice funnel and its good to go, plus pouring it into the glass carbouy helps aeirate the must which is just a plus for the yeast. Oh and for measuring specific gravity, I highly recommend getting yourself a refractometer. Its a worthy investment if you are as addicted to the homebrewing hobby as I am, and it only takes a couple drops of the must to measure brix.
I am a big time Mead maker (although not so much recently due to honey prices). Feel free to give me a shout if you decide to step into the beer arena, its a lot of fun and quite addictive.
Greg – yep, whites ferment in carboy. Pressing removes virtually all the solids from the must. The rest settle out overnight with some help from pectic enzyme. S.G. readings are done via a ‘wine thief’ drawing samples into your standard tube for SG testing – so no problems there. I look forward to some trade-sies.
Barry – In the city, the fruit waste is incredible, so I wish I had sources for it all to be used! A good carboy funnel is super handy. I have a refractometer, but still do SG testing, as I assume it is more precise, which could be incorrect. I’ve used the refractometer to test fruit prior to picking. Do you use it for all your SG measurements?
Where’s the video? No one would understand it without seeing it. It needs to be posted!
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Hey Kevin do you ever do any wild ferments of the juice from the natural yeasts present on the apples? Granted it takes a lot longer for natural fermentation to occur but would be interesting to try a “sour” applewine. :-)
try to see the finished product on the press, everytime i hit the link it shows an error. do you have phtos of the new plunger, for the press ? thank.
the pres looks farely easy to build.