Racking them up

So, over the last couple weeks, fermentation has taken its course. Early on, rising bubbles keep clouds of yeast and gunk in the cider, but gradually the bubbles slowed and eventually came nearly to a halt. At that point, it’s best to rack the cider – transfer it to another vessel – leaving a cake of “lees” (sediment and yeast bodies) behind. I’ve found it helpful to put the cider out in the garage for a day or so to retard the fermentation for a cleaner transfer. Once separated from the sludge the fermentation slows further, and the cider clears more rapidly. Racking is best accomplished with a stiff plastic tube (the “racking cane”) attached to a length clear flexible tubing. Together, they are used to siphon the cider from one vessel to the next. There’s a little diffuser cap on the end of the racking cane that prevents uptake of sludge from the bottom of the carboy.

Anyway, the first batch of the year was pretty well clarified in the secondary, and I needed the carboy it was in, so I racked it into a Cornelius keg; Holly and I bottled up a few swingtop quarts for a social engagement, where it was well received.  Around that same time the big 6.5 gallon fermenter with the single-variety Roxbury Russet cider in it slowed, so I racked it to a 6 gallon secondary.  A few days later, I racked the three remaining primary fermenters from the cider weekend to secondary, and took a couple empties down to Poverty Lane for them to fill at their convenience for a late season, low-labor batch. I also bought a gallon of 100% blueberry juice at Trader Joes in Cambridge, with the intention of making a small batch of blueberry apple wine this winter, along the lines of the cranberry apple stuff we made last year.

We’ve had our first dusting of snow and Thanksgiving is coming up, and with it another trip to Maine.  I’m hoping to make good progress on the nine remaining trees that need to be dropped before the fence can go up,  and perhaps prototype the tree-post interface that is hopefully going to provide relatively simple corners.


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