It’s been a few weeks since I’ve provided an update on the cider making, but there isn’t a lot to update. Last Saturday, we racked off our latest batch of hard cider. This cider had slowly fermented for three weeks using an Oktoberfest yeast. It got very cloudy and produced a lot of sediment. When we racked it off, we bottled a dozen bottles to see how the first fermentation ages and to have enough room in the five gallon carboy. Like with a previous batch, we added, two cups of maple syrup to boost the sugar and add a nice little taste. It is now on its second fermentation.
This freed up the six gallon carboy for us to go get some special cider. Every year, Beardsley’s Cider Mill makes a special batch of cider for brewers. It is made of an assortment of apples, including some heirlooms, as well as some quince. This year it was 60% norther spy, 20% winesap, 10% red and golden delicious with the remaining 10% a mixture of Baldwin, golden russet, Spitzenberg, an antique apple variety and Quince. I believe they made about 600 gallons which were all sold within a couple of hours.
A group of hard cider brewers come every year for this cider and they share various hard ciders they’ve made. There were ciders flavored with raspberry, elderberry, and whiskey. There were various methods that it had been fermented and aged. Some cider was very old. Other cider was much more recent. It was a fun and lively discussion. My pear cider, or perry, was well received and the maple apple cider was also enjoyed. I picked up my six gallons and headed home.
An online cider brewing friend went over there a few hours later only to find out that he had missed his opportunity. So, he’ll be making some other hard cider this time around. I’ve also chatted with various other friends and relatives online who are experimenting with making cider and sharing their stories.
For this batch, we are using a Bavarian Wheat yeast. It has started off a little slowly, but is starting to pick up speed. I figure I’ll let it go for three or four weeks and then rack it off and start our final batch for the year.
On Sunday, we stopped at Maltose Express in Monroe to pick up some yeast for our next batch of hard cider. It was a rainy day and the store was fairly quiet. Another shopper was picking up some yeast, also for making hard cider and we fell into a good discussion about different yeasts.
Tess, a co-owner of the store, recommended the cider yeast. She said she’s made lots of hard cider using that yeast and that she typically adds brown sugar to her cider to boost the sugar content. The new hard cider brewer was going with the cider yeast. I talked about some of the different yeasts I’ve used, including a champagne yeast, a Belgian Trappist yeast and how I was starting my next batch off with an Oktoberfest yeast. The folks behind the counter seemed intrigued, but perhaps a bit skeptical of using various beer brewing yeasts for cider, but I’ve been pretty happy with my results so far.
My next stop was at Beardsley Cider Mill to pick up six gallons of fresh cider. Another person was starting off on their hard cider making adventure and was heading over to Maltose next. He was a beer brewer and we chatted a bit more about different yeasts and sugars and so on.
Dan takes a different view from either Tess or myself and advocates using a fruit wine yeast. Either that, or just going with the natural yeasts on the fruit. With that, I’ve spent a little more time reading up on various yeasts and trying to come up with my own thoughts about the pros and cons of different yeasts.
I watch the fermentation lock on my large carboy of cider sitting on my dining room table. Blurp. Blurp. Every few seconds a little more carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere as the yeast turns the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. I haven’t calculated how much carbon dioxide my hard cider making produces. If anyone can help me with that, let me know. However, I don’t think it is that much.
Then, I head over to the sink; time to make more seltzer. I screw the bottle of freshly filtered well water into my Soda Stream machine. Press the button several times to squirt in carbon dioxide and I’ve got my fresh seltzer. I figure that it takes about a third of an ounce of carbon dioxide to make a liter of seltzer. SodaSystems also has soda mixes you can add to make your own cola, root beer, tonic water, ginger ale, and several other types of soda. We’re not big soda drinkers, but we’ve been pleased with their mixes.
Sure, we drink some of the commercial beverages as well. Coke, Pepsi, maybe even a Bud now and then. Yeah, we recycle the bottles, but still it seems like a much less efficient way to get beverages; bottling costs, shipping costs and so on. Doing it ourselves just seems so much more efficient, environmentally friendly and fun.
Today, I received an email that strengthened my resolve to drink local. MoveOn sent out an email talking about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to derail clean energy bills. They are asking their members to contact Pepsi and urge them to leave the Chamber of Commerce. I called up and spoke with a person there who would send the message on to the appropriate people in management. I filled out the form on MoveOn’s website detailing my call. This took me to a page which let me know that MoveOn is targeting seven other companies as well, including Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch. I called up Coca-Cola and told them the same thing.
I’ve called up SodaStreamUSA to find out if they are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I haven’t been able to find anyone who knows for sure. If they are, I doubt they are as much of a player as Coke or Pepsi are. Again, if anyone knows, let me know. I’ll urge them to leave as well.
So, by drinking my home brewed cider, and fresh squeezed seltzer, not only am I reducing the carbon dioxide necessary for the bottling and distribution of beverages from large corporations, and getting better drinks in return, but I’m also cutting back on funding large corporations that are working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to thwart better legislation to protect our environment. Sounds like a win-win to me.
For those interested in learning more about taking the climate change battle local, I would encourage you to attend, “Global Climate Change: A Connecticut Perspective” with Amey Marrella, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and former First Selectperson of Woodbridge. The presentation will take place at the Woodbridge Town Library Wednesday October 21st at 7 PM.
Also, for parents who want their kids to get more exercise and think more about how transportation fits into the environment, last Wednesday, several children and their parents walked from the cornfields in Woodbridge to Beecher Road School. Not only did it provide good morning exercise, but it helped strengthen the bonds of community for kids and parents alike. Additional walks are being planned. Let me know if you’re interested in joining.
Update: SodaStream has gotten back to me and confirmed they are not members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
It is a rainy Sunday morning about two weeks before municipal elections in Connecticut. My inbox has piled up with various notices and it seems like a good time for another Blogger’s Notebook post, highlighting some of the notices and clearing my queue.
At the top of the list are notices about voter registration. Since we do not yet have election day registration in our state it is even more important to look at when your last chance to register will be. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz as well as various civic involvement organizations have been working hard to get more citizens registered. For those wishing to register by mail, voter registration cards must be postmarked by Tuesday October 20th. If you wish to register in person you have until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 27th to make it to your Registrar of Voters office.
Politicians are all out this weekend meeting potential voters. Since the elections are municipal elections, many of the candidates lack name recognition and the draw is often the better-known politicians stumping for the local candidates.
On Sunday Senator Chris Dodd, Mayor Dan Malloy, Ned Lamont, State Treasurer Denise Nappier, State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, and State Representatives Roberta Willis and Michelle Cook will be attending various events supporting local candidates in Torrington, Harwinton, and Goshen. The Torrington event will take place at Torrington Democratic Headquarters, 29 Main Street, Torrington, 2 p.m. Harwinton will have a turkey roast at 215 Locust Road, Harwinton for $25 per person and the Goshen event will take place at Goshen Town Hall Conference Room, Route 63, Goshen, 2-4 p.m.
Yesterday, Senator Dodd, along with his wife Jackie Clegg Dodd and Milford Democratic Mayoral hopeful Genevieve Salvatore all participated in the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s (FAAN) 3rd annual “Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward a Cure”. The Dodd’s daughter and the Salvatore’s son both suffer from severe allergies.
Ned Lamont is also out stumping for other Ms. Salvatore at 100 Lansdale Avenue in Milford this morning, after also having been out stumping for David Martin in Stamford.
In other electioneering, the New Haven Register has an interesting article, Tweeting for Votes on the use of social media in local elections. The article is worthy of a blog post in and of itself discussing some of the views expressed there.
In other news about Twitter and politics, CTNewsJunkie reports Twitter has sided with the Democrats over the fake Twitter accounts the CT GOP had set up. These accounts have been taken down.
One of the important aspects of the municipal elections in many locations will be board of education elections. One board of education announcement that came across my desk from several different directions was the announcement that “Alex Johnston, Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), a New Haven-based education reform advocacy group, has been appointed by Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. to serve on the New Haven Board of Education.”
I met Mr. Johnston at a conference on education at Yale and New Haven is lucky to have him. The conference was during the confirmation hearings for Linda McMahon to be appointed to the State Board of Education. State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann at the time spoke vehemently against McMahon’s appointment. With her current run for U.S. Senate, McMahon’s work at WWE is coming under much greater criticism, as highlighted in this blog post on MyLeftNutmeg.
As a final note about electoral politics, CTNewsJunkie also reports about an informational forum planned by the Government Administration and Elections Committee on the Citizens’ Election Program. This program was struck down by a judge and needs prompt modifications if it is to be used for the 2010 election cycle. The forum will take place at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday at 11 AM. Hopefully, I will be able to attend and live blog the event.
Last Thursday, there was a Bus Rapid Transit Symposium at the Legislative Office Building. On Monday, there will be a “2009 Prospering Communities, Thriving Families” conference at the Hartford Downtown Marriott. The week ends off with International Day of Climate Action on Saturday. From 1 to 4:40 there will a Family Fun Day at the Massaro Farm at 41 Ford Road in Woodbridge. Community Supported Agriculture shares in the farm are expected to be available at the family day. This is a practical, fun, and close to home way to help fight climate change.
There will also be events at the lower green in New Haven on Saturday starting at 2 PM as well as a potluck dinner and discussion at the Quaker Meetinghouse on 225 East Grand Avenue starting at 5 PM.
Unfortunately, we are supposed to be attending an event in New Hampshire and will most likely miss these events.
On the national level, I need to finish up my work on my response to Cablevision’s request to encrypt basic cable in New York City. I’m also working on my thoughts for the FTC hearings in Washington in December about the future of journalism.
The FCC has now posted an independent review of the FCC by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Next Generation Connectivity: A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world. That is on the to do list, as well as following legislation to support public access television as well as Local Community Radio Act (HR 1147).
In other tidbits, David Plouffe campaign manager for Obama's presidential campaign will be speaking in Second Life as part of the fall public affairs lecture series, “Assessing Obama's First Year.” . You can find more information at http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2010/oct/plouffe101609.html
The GoodNewsNetwork highlights an article about a Former refugee who recycles US hotel soap for Uganda
The Country Club of Woodbridge is having an open house today. It is a rainy day which might not be best for the open house. However, they have discounts on membership in effect until the end of the month, so it is worth stopping by and checking out.
Finally, for this morning, Bill Chmura has written about his first batch of hard cider. Bill and I have been emailing back and forth, and I need to follow up with him on his latest adventures.
There are plenty of other items I would have liked to highlight, but the notebook is long enough, and I have other tasks to get to.
Today, we bottled our first batch of perry, or hard pear cider. We started it back on October 3rd. We used six gallons of pear cider from High Hill Orchard in Meriden. We got the cider straight from the press. It was made predominantly from bosc pears. We also got a gallon of fresh pear cider for drinking. The fresh pear cider did not taste as strongly of pear as I had hoped. It really didn’t taste significantly different from apple cider.
I had hoped to use a Belgian Lambic yeast, but Maltose Express, where we normally get our yeast did not have any in stock. So, I decided to use the same Belgian Trappist yeast that we had used for our previous batch of apple cider. The one problem we had with the Trappist yeast is that it generates a really frothy head, and you need much more head room in the top of the carboy. We didn’t have enough headroom with the batch of apple cider and had to clean the fermentation lock a couple of times. It was even worse with the pear cider actually managing to spew foam out of the fermentation lock. It was a mess that we had to clean a few times.
The fermentation had slowed down a bit earlier this week, but Kim and I have both been fighting colds and we didn’t want to rack the cider when we were fighting colds for fear of contaminating the cider. So, it spent a little more time in the first fermentation than I would have liked.
This afternoon, we finally got ready to rack it off. We do our first fermentation in a 6 1/2 gallon carboy. Then, we bottle off about a gallon and a half and do the second fermentation in a 5 gallon carboy. Typically, the cider we bottle off from the first fermentation tends to be a little more cloudy and yeasty.
The first pass came tasting much more of pear than I had anticipated and I was pleasantly surprised at that. It does have a little bit of an astringent taste, and I’m not sure how much that is because of the pear juice, or if some of it might be because of problems with the fermentation lock and a little bit of vinegar forming although Kim does not believe this to be the case. We’ll see how the first pass ages as well as how the second fermentation goes.
We will probably make another try at pear cider next year and see if we can get some pear cider that has more pear flavor to start with, and perhaps is prepared in other ways to have less tannins. We may also use a less frothy yeast next time, perhaps reverting to champagne yeast, which is what we used for our first pass at hard apple cider.
Meanwhile, we discussed whether or not to start a new batch of hard apple cider. Beardsley Cider Mill, which is where we’ve been getting our apple cider, does a special run the first Sunday of November especially for people brewing hard cider. The first Sunday of November is the 1st, which is just two weeks away. It would be cutting things a little bit too close to start a batch today or tomorrow and then hope to start a new batch in just two weeks.
However, today we stopped at the cider mill to pick up some fresh cider for drinking as is, and found out that the special batch won’t be run until November 8th, so we will probably try to get another batch done between now and then. We will probably make it similar to the maple apple cider we did in our previous batch.
As a final comment, I’ve had some great discussions with people via email and Facebook as well as in various cider mills. I want to thank the person who suggested trying my hand at pear cider and I look forward to further discussions about cider making.