RG 2007 February

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

February , 2007

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Racking and bottling

I've been taking advantage of the recent spell of high pressure weather to do a complete racking of all that I made last year. It took rather longer than I'd expected. It was a full day's work in the tank room alone. The Okoflow 330 pump that I was so pleased with last year, seems to be rather slow now that I'm using it to move twice the amount of cider. It is supposed to shift 3000 litres per hour, so I decided to time it. In fact it was taking 40 minutes to pump out each 1000 litre tank, so it is only really managing half of its specified rate.

Like other producers that I know, I'm using 3/4 inch pipe. This is connected to each side of the pump by reducing adapters, since the pump inlet and outlet are 1 inch fittings. I suppose the 3000 litres per hour is only achieved when using 1 inch pipe. I had not thought it would make so much difference using 3/4" pipe. Now that I've done the sums, I see that 1 inch pipe has a cross sectional area that is 1.78 x greater. There is also more frictional loss in the smaller pipe so perhaps a halving of the specified rate is not that much of a surprise.

Cobra

The obvious thing would be to upgrade to 1 inch pipe but anyone who has handled Vigo's food grade poly pipe knows how hard it is to manage even the 3/4 inch version. It is good quality pipe but it seems to take on a life of its own. I'm forever battling to prevent it from returning to the coiled form in which it was supplied. Probably the reinforcing web within its thick walls is responsible for the innate springiness. I've no intention of doing battle with the King Cobra 1 inch version!

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Once the cider had been pumped from each tank, my cheapo Screwfix pressure washer did a good job of blasting out the lees and cleaning the tank walls. What value for £30! I should have bought another as a spare, for when it goes wrong.

My other great joy was the all pervading aroma of the fresh new cider. Glorious! It tastes pretty good too. Sometimes I wish the gentle slight sweetness at Sg 1010 would remain. It would not please everybody though.

The deliberately sweet, keeved ciders in the Sputnik room are indeed still very sweet as their Sgs are hovering gently around the 1030 mark. It is still far too early to think about bottling any of these, but there is also a vat of non keeved Tremletts in there, that is now below 1010. One of my favourite single varieties (sometimes found in Waitrose) is Sheppy's Tremlett's Bitter, so I decided to have a go at bottling some of my own. I like the tannic character of Tremletts.

rinsing

I'm a firm believer in rinsing out all bottles in a weak sulphite solution before filling. Although the bottles are new, they've been stored awhile and I do not want to risk infection. There is only cold water available,( the luxury of hot water having not yet arrived in the ciderhouse ). This proved to be a real hand numbing job as it was very cold today. It was such a penance rinsing the bottles that there had to be frequent breaks so that I could warm my hands around a mug of tea. Batch by by batch I've got up to 200 bottles now. There is still about 250 litres in the vat, but I feel as though I've had enough of bottling for the time being!

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Last week two pallets of the 20 litre Bag-in-Boxes arrived. Fortunately it was not raining but I lost no time in getting them into the barn and spent the rest of the day stacking. 250 of them are upstairs. The other 250 are down below in the press room ready for packaging to begin towards the end of next month. This year I've got my own 'Cider by Rosie' print and logo on the boxes which I hope will help to advertise the product.

Rose.