1. Use only mature, sound apples.
• Apples do not have to be up to supermarket stards; scab and other imperfections are fine.
• Using any decaying fruit is dangerous! Decay has yeasts that will affect shelf life of cider, and molds that can produce toxic chemicals in it. Even a small amount of rotten fruit can give the cider an offensive smell. It’s also hard on the press and cloths.
NOTE: pasteurization will kill yeasts and molds but cider isn’t pasteurized, so be careful! Chemical preservatives only stop growth; they don’t kill what’s already there.
2. Wash apples after sorting and before pressing.
• Remove rotten apples from the batch before washing to reduce amount of yeast and mold.
• Since many cider apples are windfalls, make sure all dirt is removed.
3. Make sure all your equipment is properly cleaned and sanitary before and after you use it.
• The cider press, containers, knives, grinder, cutting boards, work surfaces, pressing bags and so on should be clean.
• You can clean your equipment by washing it with warm water and soap or the sanitizing solution (prior to use, rinse with a solution of one tablespoon bleach per four litres water, drain and air dry). Leave it for 2-5 minutes and then hose it down. Do not soak metal parts in this solution for more than 30 seconds or pitting may occur.
• Rinse all items thoroughly with clean (preferably hot) water.
4. Preserving Cider
• Refrigeration from 0°C to 2°C will hold cider without preservative for 1 to 2 weeks without danger of fermentation.
• Freezing is the best method of preserving the fresh flavour of cider; it retains its quality for at least 1 year. Fill the container to 90% of its capacity to allow for expansion.
Chemical Preservatives. The two most commonly used are Potassium Sorbate, a newer, tasteless chemical, and Benzoate of Soda, the more common one, which may leave a somewhat burning aftertaste. Neither kills yeasts or molds; they only stop them from multiplying. Either can be added to cider up to a max of 1000 ppm. The lower the yeast and mold levels in your cider the less preservative you need.
5. Other points to consider:
• Reduce potential contamination of the cider by making sure your hands, clothes and boots are clean when you’re processing the fruit.
• Use only clean, potable water during all steps of production and cleanup.
• Create a less friendly environment for yeasts by pre-cooling the apples before pressing and chilling the cider as quickly as possible. As well, cooled apples produce more juice than warm apples. Dispose of the apple pomace (crud) as soon as possible because it will attract flies, wasps – and fruit flies by the millions.
Download the three-page ‘Skookum Cider Press Rules’ (including the needed waiver) as a printable Adobe Acrobat file here.
And please take a moment to review some basic safety tips: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/pdf/hfile72.pdf