The plan looked nice and simple. A little too simple.
I started to do some extra reading and discussed it a bit with some people who know lots of things about this kind of stuff. I started to notice that pectinase was getting mentioned. A lot.
For those playing at home: Pectinase is an enzyme that breaks down pectin. Pectin is a polysaccharide (big sugar) that is undigested naturally by yeast. There is also a lot of pectin in sour plums. I was using sour plums.
It was becoming pretty obvious that I was going to need some to achieve my goal of crystal clear plum cider.
Then came the roadblocks when looking around for some ready before the pressing day.
It was only a couple of days before Christmas and online suppliers were not going to be able to get any to me in time.
My local home brew store was able to order me some and it would arrive in time, but it would have to be in bulk and not the tiny portion I actually needed. I wasn’t keen buying a scale of magnitude more than what I needed, so I had to pass on that.
I contacted anyone I knew working in a winery or a brewery that has done cider and they were either all out or not around on the holidays so I was left with no choice but to go without.
It couldn’t be that important. Right? So my cider would just be a bit cloudier than I originally wanted. That’s not a deal breaker.
So I gathered up everything that wasn’t pectinase and got to work.
The plums were pitted and fed into the sausage mincer.
The minced plum was wrapped up and put in the cider press.
The cider press was wound down and the plum mince was compressed.
No juice came out. This wasn’t like juicing apples at all.
It turns out that the juice was bound pretty well in the minced plum flesh.
This was an eleventh hour problem. I was out of help options. I had one choice.
All of the pulp in the mincer was scraped out into a fermenter and all further minced plums went in with it. Along with a helpful dosing of potassium metabisulphite. What could go wrong?
What am I doing?
I am making some delicious, crystal clear, sparkling plum cider.
Why am I doing it?
I don’t remember ever having Plum Cider, so why not make some?
Plus, I don’t make much cider. The stuff I do make is nearly always apple cider and it is nearly always working with other people and not as a solo effort.
What am I making it with?
There is a Chinese Plum tree in my yard that produces a modest amount of fruit each year. Sometimes I get to harvest those fruit before the hoards of birds and bats consume them all.
Last year was one of the years that I managed to get a harvest in.
I ended up with about six shopping bags of fruit and a desire to make something from them.
I picked up some cider yeast and borrowed a sausage mincer and cider press. My old glass fermenters were pulled out of storage for their first use and I began wistfully looking at my calendar for a free afternoon.
How am I making it?
The outline was simple (long, but simple):
- Remove the pits from the fruit.
- Put the flesh through the sausage mincer.
- Put the mince in the cider press and make some delicious plum juice in a plastic fermenter.
- Maybe dilute the juice down a bit.
- Add some potassium metabisulfite (precaution after the great lemonade explosion of 2017).
- Wait two days.
- Pitch some yeast.
- Primary ferment until completion.
- Crash chill.
- Transfer into glass fermenters (with some more K-meta).
- Wait 50 days.
- Rack into another glass fermenter (with more K-meta).
- Wait another 50 days.
- Rack into another glass fermenter (with even more K-meta).
- Wait ANOTHER 50 days.
- Package it.
- Drink some delicious, crystal clear, sparkling plum cider in the sun shine.
When am I doing it?
It is already underway. Step 14 of this initial plan has already happened. And so many things have gone different to plan. Stay tuned for what the hell happened.
Hi. I’m Tyrone.
I am a founder and the current President of the Grog Cobras.
I thought I would run a small blog series on this site. Partly to generate some content and partly to provide a creative outlet via writing which has sat dormant for way too long.
I have been home brewing for quite a few years. I started making kit beers in the kitchen with my dad in my late teens and eventually moved on to acquiring my own equipment and setting out on my own.
It took me a while to step out from the safety of kit brewing but once I did I never looked back.
Since stepping up my brewing game I have managed to move into brewing professionally, which has been an incredibly rewarding decision.
I tend to spend way more time than necessary refining recipes and tinkering with the never ending home brewery build slowly taking up my entire workshop.
That being said, in the coming posts I hope to share with you some of the activity going on when I’m brewing out back.