Wild yeast apple wine making?

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May 25, 2014
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Hi Friends,

Complete nube here so I hope you'll be gentle. I'm starting in on my first wine making project. I have an old varietal of cider apple tree leaning into my yard (Roxbury Russets) and I gathered about 25 lbs of fruit today. I am trying to figure out how to approach my first attempt and was hoping you could help with a few questions:

(1) I've seen a lot of youtube cuts on apple wine that suggest you pour boiling water over the apples or actually boil them, which I'm reticent to do. I've also seen recipes that request that you use a Campden tablet. All of these recipes suggest adding yeast, usually some type of feeder and backsweetening. When I watch videos on grape wine it seems to be quite popular to just use wild yeast. Is there any safety risk if I skip boiling or the use of a Campden tablet (or is the killing of yeast/bacteria for purpose of control)?

(2) Instead of using a more aggressive yeast, and perhaps feeder, can I just rely on wild yeast to ferment? If I can rely on wild yeast, how would that change the fermenting process?

(3) I've seen several suggestions to freeze the apples first before juicing. Would that impact wild yeast fermentation?

(4) Do you have a suggested amount of tartish apple fruit per gallon?

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide. Really looking forward to this project, and just hoping it comes out okay!
1) apple will normally have a gravity of 1.050 (commercial varieties) or a finished alcohol of about 5.5%. Can you measure gravity as a hydrometer? ,,,, Adding hot water will dilute this and is not normal. Two processes are found, for small quantities they can be frozen then pressed, ,, for large or commercial production the whole apple is ground to about a 1/8 inch particle and then pressed. The new Cider Makers Handbook by Jolicoeur has an example of a simple home press which is plywood top and bottom, four threaded rod in the corners and pulp bags (as nylon wine press bag) to contain the pulp/ separate the juice.
DO NOT BOIL! Heat solubilizes pectin, that stuff that makes jelly solid, and you may never get a really clear wine. By the way pectase enzyme is added to break down pectin so it will clear.
Campden (1 per 5 gallon) is normal to keep micro infection and off flavors out and is added every racking
2) sure you can use wild yeast, if you are lucky it will be more interesting and if you are unlucky it will taste worse. My guess is this is fairly low risk since a hundred years ago everyone was w wild fermentation, ,,, and folks kept doing it.
3) freezing will not substantially change flavor. freezing will produce a cleaner less cloudy wine, ,,,by the way, did you want wine as 11 or 12 % alcohol or cider as 5.5% alcohol? Wine requires added sugar.
4) quantity of tart apple? If you have one variety ignore this. Wine is normally fermented at less than pH 3.5, ,,, my apple requires me to add extra acid, ,,, commercial apple is not bred for acid variety so you may not even find them. ,,, pH is a fence that prevents infection. ,,, can you measure pH? ,,,, low pH apple juice will have better shelf life
tannin is also suggested, I am using 5% of Prairie Star which is high tannin, a moderate tannin as Kingston Black could be 100% that variety.
5) a lot of cider is carbonated with a bit of sugar, i would skip this unless you have good directions as Jolicoeur

welcome to Wine Making Talk and good luck with the project
Private Message if I need to explain more as Jolicoeur’s method
Wow, I didn't understand that, and I have been making (country) wine for 8 years! I graduated to kit winemaking, jury is still out, but it looks like an acquittal!

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