De'cider, in Chief

     I spent yesterday "upstate" in Dutchess County, with my JET Alum friends. We visited the farmers market in Rhinebeck, Mead Orchards in Tivoli, and Sawkill Farm, in Red Hook (not to be confused with the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name). 
     The excellent Farmers Market obliterated my delusions of budgeting. I bought honey, beer, cheese, meat, pickles, and whiskey to take home. That doesn't include the tacos and Thai mini-crepes with meringue and toasted coconut, we bought and ate there! Half the sellers, it turned out, also sell at the Union Square's farmers markets. While initially, I felt disappointed by that news, I would have never found them or understood them as well, were it not for this trip, and now I know where I can find more without the travel.
     The Mead Orchard apple picking was equally fun and amazing, but our tour guides gave us less than one hour there, and constantly threatened to leave stragglers behind. I barely managed time to purchase some ciders, and probably would have bought even more, were I given more time to browse. Alas.
Had to snap a pic of the autumn color behind the old Mead Orchard farmhouse.
      Next was the Sawkill Farm. A cool place, and good chance to see adorable farm animals - the majority of which will eventually be slaughtered for their delicious meats. I understand why vegetarians would not want these sweet creatures killed, but my inner-psychopath has no problem appreciating them while they live, and simultaneously looking forward to how tasty they will be, once butchered and cooked.
These cows look like they're about to change the face of hip-hop
 The divide grew deepest looking at these little 12 week-old piglets. I never realized just how social and puppy-like they played with one another. When we got home though, we ate the sweet, Italian sausage made from their previous generation, and I felt zero remorse, only gratitude, relieved by how happy they must have been in life at this farm.

     After getting home and feasting with my girlfriend's family on a dinner of all our day-trip shopping, I got home around 11:30 pm at which point I thought: "TIME TO BREW!!!"

      I'd like to show you now, just how easy it is to make a hard cider from non-alcoholic ciders I bought at Mead Orchards.


  • One gallon of cider - this time I used one half-gallon each of apple and pear!
  • Yeast - this time I used a sparkling wine yeast, I have never tried this variety before, so I'm excited to taste the result!
  • Sanitizer - you also need tap water to dilute the sanitizer and prime the yeast.

     Brew time: 15 minutes!?!
     Because I started with pre-made, UV treated cider, there was no pasteurizing necessary (an optional step anyway), and the cider was room temperature from the trip home, the only time I needed was 15 minutes priming the yeast in warm (105 degree F) water.

     I added the yeast to 2 ounces of water and covered it. making the sanitizer and cleaning the glass carboy (pictured), then cleaned and sanitized the cap and blow-off tube, while I waited for the yeast.

     Then I added the ciders and pitched the yeast into the carboy, and attached the cap and tube.

     Before adding the yeast, I took the additional step of pouring a small portion of my cider-mix into a graduated cylinder. Putting that in the fridge to chill to 60 degrees.

     That was all it took to begin the fermentation process. The next step is adding a bit of honey in two weeks and bottling it, so it can bottle condition (carbonate in-bottle) for another week, and then fresh, home-made hard cider is mine to enjoy!!!

     So what about this graduated cylinder nonsense? Well, by the time I finished cleaning up, the cider I set aside in the fridge had chilled to 60 degrees, allowing me to measure the gravity, using the hydrometer pictured. This reading, in brewing, is called the "original gravity", which was 1.047.

     In two weeks, I'll compare that to a second reading (called the "specific gravity") when I add the honey and bottle it. Comparing the two numbers will tell me exactly how much alcohol my cider will have!


Hope you found that interesting! Below, you'll find two pics of what waited for me when I put everything away: 

That's Samus sleeping in the background, while Chrono tries to fool me into thinking I'm seeing double!

He is a skilled doppelganger, but when the real McCoy noticed him sleeping on "her bed", she chased him out! Poor buddy.


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