Saturday, December 24, 2011

Arizona Homestead Apple Cider

Ive really been diving into cider recently, and in my hunt for interesting flavors and apples I was able to source some very interesting local Arizona apples. Even though I'm very close to downtown, the part of Phoenix I live in is actually fairly rural, and horse ranches, cotton fields, and the mountains surround me on all sides. It wasn't until recently though that I realized what a boon that could be for me.

I have been endlessly hunting apple varieties to use in the cider experiment. Essentially what I am trying to do is get a handle on the flavors of many different types of fermented apple juices. I figure that when you understand each component it makes blending much easier. Strangely I really haven't been able to find anything in the way of detailed descriptions of flavors and aromas of different apple varieties once they are fermented.

Anyway, in my hunt for apples I came across a horse ranch less than 4blocks from my house that was selling local apples. These weren't just any apples though. They were from an old homestead in the mountains in eastern Arizona dating back to the late 1800's!  Talking with the owners, they believed the apples were golden delicious, and I must say that they do bear a strong resemblance to that type of apple. However the dates just didn't match up. Golden delicious apples didn't become a commercially developed variety until around 1915-1920. Grimes golden on the other hand was very prominent in the late 1800's and into the early 1920's. The strong resemblance for these apples to Golden Delicious is no coincidence either, as Grimes golden is a parent of golden delicious.

The final nail in the coffin that really makes me think that these are Grimes is the flavor. These apples are richer and have a hint of spiciness that Ive never tasted in Golden Delicious.

A couple more great things about these apples are that they are completely organic and no fertilizers were used on them. When apples are grown without any type of fertilizers the resulting juice is very low in nitrogen. The low nitrogen in the juice leads to a very long, very slow fermentation which helps to preserve apple flavors. This can also lead to a cider that ends up slightly sweet. If your careful about your process you can also bottle the cider in a way perfected by the French to produce a naturally sweet, carbonated cider. Some of my favorite examples of cider come from Normandy and use low N apples or a process called keeving that achieve the same results.

Now I'm not going to go that route, and I wont probably rack very often either (soon I will attempt that though) For now I'll be happy with just the normally fermented juice.

Arizona Homestead Cider
Amt (lbs)Type
52Grimes Golden? Apples (Haldi Farms)
5/8tspSodium Metabisulfate
YeastWLP775 English Cider (2L starter)
Notes: Yeast was added ~24hrs after sulfiting, fermentation took off rather slowly and has continued very slowly, a small nutrient addition ~1/2tsp was added 2days into fermentation.  Its been happily bubbling away at about 60F

Review - 2/3/2013 - Comparison with Gravenstein and Granny Smith Varietals


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