Side Project – Balloons!

When first getting interested in cider, theres a few sources that recommend adding yeast and only somewhat tightening the cap on a bottle or adding a balloon.  It might be more accurate to call it hooch than cider, but it theoretically will work.  The slightly loosened cap is very difficult – you need to tighten it enough to let CO2 escape while preventing air from getting in.  The balloon method is slightly different.  The CO2 will rise and make the balloon expand.  No oxygen will get in, and the CO2 will have plenty of room to fill expand.  Theres definitely a concern about the pressure forcing the balloon off the lip of the bottle, and if theres too much CO2 – the balloon might expand too much and pop.  But we decided to try it.

Our work has small bottles of juice.  One day I decided to check the ingredients of the apple juice and noticed that there were no preservatives that would prevent fermentation.  So we decided to grab a couple of bottles and add balloons!  The small bottles will hopefully not generate enough CO2 to pop the balloons – and its much easier than trying to fit an airlock or sneak enough small bottles home to fill a gallon.

 

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We have Welch’s apple juice and cranberry apple juice.  The cranberry apple might have some preservatives that interfere with fermentation – we’ll see.  We added a small bit of EC-1118 to each bottle and popped a balloon on top.

 

Make sure to really sanitize your balloons!

 

 

UPDATE 1 -Not a day later and we’re definitely seeing some action!  The apple juice is definitely working.  Balloons seem to be securely on.

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UPDATE 2 – Sorry for the not so great lighting, but it looks like the cranberry apple juice is seeing some action too!  Its interesting because it did nothing for nearly a week.  The preservatives might not prevent fermentation, but may prevent yeast reproduction.  So whatever yeast we put in is going to have to do all the work.  It’ll be very interesting to see if its any bit alcoholic.  Unfortunately I don’t think theres enough liquid to actually take the gravity, so our only way to tell will be a taste test.

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Batch 4 – Bottling

I ended up being a bit busy, so this sat in primary for a few weeks extra.  But boy was it worth the wait.

So we have a gallon of 4.1 (brown sugar) and a gallon of 4.2 (maple syrup).  The additional sugar at the beginning changed the flavor a bit, but mostly made it more alcoholic (~6.5% instead of ~5.5%).  The brown sugar was fairly reserved, but had a slight difference.  The maple syrup was definitely a bit woody.  Not too bad on its own, but this is the backsweetened attempt!

First thing we did is we reracked 4.1 to remove sediment and allow for more room in the carboy.  We then added 1 and 1/3 thawed apple juice concentrate and let it mix while bottling 4.2.

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For 4.2, we added a teaspoon or two (we weren’t being too accurate) of maple syrup to each bottle before filling.  We also added some to a glass that we filled – it was delicious.  Sweet and lots of maple flavor complimenting the cider.  Definitely needed a wet rag to wipe down the bottles due to the maple syrup.  We also did an unsweetened bottle to see how the wood flavor ages.  Seems like a good time to introduce a new element to our versioning – an ‘s’ will now indicate that its been backsweetened (and hence, will need cold crashed).

 

 

Once the maple was done, we turned out attention back to 4.1 with the apple juice concentrate.  Our taste test had me worried.  It was VERY sweet and VERY apply.  Too much so.  I think the extra 1/3 might have overdone it.  Good news is that I’m going to let it carbonate, so it’ll hopefully eat some of that and tone it down.

 

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Overall it turned out to be a great session.  The maple was delicious as any maple cider I’d had.  The super-apple flavor was a bit strong, but would hopefully be fine after letting it carbonate.  Both batches have gone into a bin (to contain any bottle bombs) and I’ll cold crash them in a few days.