I got a text this past weekend letting me know a friend had some extra pear cider, asking if I was interested in coming over and helping make some. I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve never had fresh pear cider, and I never made Perry. I am a big fan of both pears and local fruit. Sunday morning I set of with my work crew and we headed to turn some pears into juice. The Cider grinder and press is a gorgeous piece that would look at home in a turn of the farm (1900’s). Osha and FDA certified it is not, with a hand crank powered toothed grinding wheel, a large open flywheel, and lots of wood. The resulting pumice from the pears still had a fair amount of chunks, we put the ground pears in paint strainer bags, to make a cheese. Once we had a few cheeses in the pressing basket separated by wooden disks we pressed. The pressing is very simple, even before you turn the crank, the juice is flowing. As you increase the pressure out comes an increasingly dark, sweet cider. We collected 3 gallons into my carboy, some more was added to JD’s fermentor. Then we pressed some andjou pears for a single varietal gallon experiment. Hopefully we will hear more about it from him. I believe the mix of pears juice I came home with was Comice, and Bosc, but unfortunately I didn’t take notes. What I do know is, it takes a lot of fruit to make juice. We filled a 5 gallon bucket twice with ground pears for 3+ gallons. Unless you have your own tree(s) it’s likely not going to be worth it to make your own. The girls and I had a great time sampling the juice, eating grapes, playing in the trees, and picking flowers.
When I picked up the juice I was contemplating if I should make a pear mead or just a common perry. Without a proper mead yeast, and for lack of a real need for a high abv fruit and honey wine, I decided on more of a moderate perry. I am aiming for something in the 6.5% range. Taking what I’ve learned from prior cider batches, I lowered the amount of honey, to keep the abv more reasonable. However, the fermentability of fruit juice as it is, even with a starting gravity below 1050, this will still be above 6%.
After reading the AHA Funded Cider yeast experiment, in which WLP002 london ale (fullers strain) came out the favorite. I knew I wanted to use my favorite ale yeast, wyeast London ESB 1968, also considered the fullers strain for my cider(s) this year. After all, my first cider also featured nothingham, an english ale yeast, and it eventually turned out just fine, after some significant aging.
I had forgotten that in the past I’ve only used a single campden tablet, hopefully the 3 crushed up tablets didn’t do too much damage. After adding the campden, It sat over night. I added 1/4 tsb of pectic enzymes, 3/4 teaspoon of Crosby Baker yeast nutrient, 1/2 lb of local hollis honey, and about a pint jar of second generation wyeast London ESB 1968 yeast. I aerated using o2 for a 10 count. Then added an airlock and shook the fermentor.
As of monday morning the surface of the cider was hopping with activity, by mid morning wednesday it had blown off. I’ve never experienced that with with a cider, but it’s common place for my beers. (Something I am trying to control a little better.) Currently the carboy is sitting in the basement, at about 55ish, still fermenting away. It’s still smelling a bit like sulfur, which is expected when adding Potassium Metabisulfite. In the past this has blown off while fermenting, and I’ve been able to help out gas it with c02 while cold conditioning / carbonating. So, all that’s left is about 4-5 months of waiting. Which means, last years batch should be pretty good right about now.
Another note, there is a new Cider book on the market, and I’m eager to get my hands on a copy. If you’ve read it, or have recommendations for other books on hard cider, perry or mead books, I’d love to hear em.