Thursday, August 4, 2011

Goodbye Cyser Mead....

...though I never.....knew you at all... 
(sung to Elton John's 'Candle In The Wind')

I am in mourning. You will be truly missed. Cut down so young. In the prime of life. The guilt I feel is crushing. Farewell, my beloved.

Yes, it's true. The apple cyser mead, that I had been lovingly coddling since December 12, 2010, is no more. I had neglected to check on it in the nearly month and a half since my retirement. The happy day finally arrived when it was due to be bottled. When I went to fetch it from the bulk aging closet I found, to my absolute HORROR, that the water had evaporated from the airlock and my precious mead had been left unprotected for God knows how long. Pouring that golden nectar down the drain was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The remaining 5 gallons of country wines and meads were fine (they had a different style of airlock) but I did find mold growing in the water in a couple of the bubblers. I hastily rinsed them and added fresh water and resolved to check them closer, in the morning, and bottle if they were ready. That was the evening of August 2nd. I didn't sleep well. I kept waking up and remembering about the mead, and worrying that I would have to toss out more of the wines I had spent so much time creating.

Yesterday I set to work. I checked all 5 of the gallon fermentors. 3 of them were ready for bottling and the other 2 needed to be racked. Here are the results of my labors. 15 bottles of some of the tastiest wine I've ever had the pleasure to drink.

From left to right:
Mandarin Orange Banana, Raspberry Apple & Apple Raisin.
(5 bottles of each)

I like my wines to be a little on the sweet side. I back sweetened each gallon with 1/2 cup of sugar (dissolved in 1/4 cup of water). I also added 1/2 tsp. of stabilizer to each bottling bucket, to inhibit further fermentation. All of these wines were racked numerous times and left to age for months, so there shouldn't be any active yeast left. But better to be safe than sorry. This is my high tech set up. Here I am transferring the wine from the fermentor to the bottling bucket, to which the sugar syrup and stabilizer has been added.

Look how clear the wine is. That is what you are looking for.
Once it is clear you can bottle it and add it to your cellar.
This is the apple raisin wine, BTW.

And here it is, all freshly bottled. I got 5 bottles from
each gallon of wine, plus a little sample for the winemaker.

Here is the raspberry apple:
(made with frozen apple juice and my fresh raspberries)

And the one I am most proud of, mandarin orange banana. The husbeast told me I couldn't make a proper wine using oranges. But a customer (when I was still employed at the yarn shop) brought in a bag of "past their prime" mandarin oranges and you know how I hate to waste things. I also had a couple of over ripe bananas at home, so combined to two to make this concoction. And it is yummy! Bet you won't find anything like this on the store shelves.

Even though I lost my prize mead, it was a good (and painful) lesson to learn. I need to keep a closer check on the bulk aging closet, especially during the hot summer months. I won't make that mistake again. I was so distraught that I was considering giving up wine making. But after bottling these lovelies I am even more enthralled with the process.


NewlyAwakened said...

I am going to try using vodka. I got that tip off of one of my wine forums. I guess it is more sanitary, won't ruin your product if it gets sucked into the fermenter, kills bugs better, but probably would evap. faster so yes, need to check! We moved ours up off the floor as the little one was drinking the nasty water out of them! Yuck! lol

crazihippichic said...

My husband uses Star San in his bubblers. I'll stick with the water. It worked fine. I just forgot about it until it was too late.

That is hilarious about the baby drinking the bubbler water. It's amazing what kids do...and turn out just fine.