Cider Question: How can I delay processing my apples?

Things happen and you aren’t always able to process all the apples you need to fill your fermenter. For example, not all apples ripen at the same time. In fact, a single tree may take weeks to ripen all the apples on it. Maybe your grinder or press broke or you picked more apples than you realized and can’t actually process them all in the time you have. If you need to pause or delay processing your apples, there are three good options to do this. You can sweat your apples. You can freeze them. You can ferment them. Ultimately, you can even do all three.

Sweating Apples

Consider sweating your apples if you need to delay your cider making.

Sweating Apples at Home

I often find myself collecting apples from multiple orchards, which aren’t located near each other. Sometimes, I need a couple weekends to get the apples I want or if I manage to get all the apples from the different locations in a single weekend, I don’t have time to process them. What do I do? I almost always sweat my apples. If you are picking overly ripe fruit, this may make pressing harder but if you are like me and pick from the tree, some additional ripening is probably beneficial. Sweating your fruit is a wonderful way to postpone processing apples for your hard cider making process. Two weeks is about the longest I dare sweat my apples here in Arizona. The low humidity and warmer autumn weather seems to accelerate the ripening process but, if you are in a cooler climate, you may be able to go several weeks. I’m in the habit of rinsing my fruit when I return from the orchard and then sweating them in plastic totes but, this is also just because it makes my processing day easier as I can begin after sanitizing my equipment.

Freezing Apples or Juice

Consider freezing your apples or juice if you need to delay your process.

Apples after being frozen and thawed (photo by Landis Bobandis Odell)

Another method to postpone processing apples is to freeze them. Besides increasing your juice yield (it’s the method used to make ice cider), it’s a way to collect apples from different times so you can blend them together. You can also do this with the juice throughout the season. Every year, I create an ice cider by freezing extra juice. Instead of thawing and fermenting all the juice, I freeze concentrate the juice. If you have freezer space and want to give yourself some more time, just freeze your apples or juice until you are ready to use it. If you freeze the apples, you don’t need to mill them as you can press them whole once they thaw. Freezing the juice is also a great way to have some fresh juice later during the year.

Ferment the Apples

Start or complete the fermentation process.

Yeast Cap - Krausen

You can start fermenting your juice and simply add more juice later, even if the fermentation isn’t complete. Opening your fermenter will allow oxygen in but, adding more juice means more sugar and nutrients. The yeast will quickly use up the oxygen and process the sugar and nutrients. Even if your fermentation completes, you could still add more fresh juice. This would be like the continuous fermentation processes used to make some wines. If the fermentation is complete, I’d suggest racking that cider into another container for aging and, you can just harvest the yeast used for that batch and reuse it for the new juice. This will help keep the aroma profile more consistent. However, blending different ciders with various aroma profiles is one of the best ways to make great cider. This means your delays may contribute to a more complex and wonderful cider.

As you can see, you have options that allow you to delay processing your apples without negative impacts. In fact, they may actually help your cider making process. Remember, these methods can also be combined. You can sweat your apples, freeze them, and then ferment them separately. This can help you manage your time but, even help you create better cider blends. Let me know, if you have other questions that you’d like me to answer. Leave me a comment or send me a message through the contact page.

Don’t miss any future answers to Cider Questions. Follow me and you will get a link to my latest article delivered to your inbox. It’s that easy!

Check out these posts for .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.