Bottling it

This morning I took another gravity reading of the brew, and it was near as dammit down to 1.000. So the time has finally come to bottle it! Here’s how it went, with added photo fun…

The first job is the worst. Sterilising. Yes it’s as tedious as it sounds, although for those of you living a slightly more modern existence, you can avoid all this by just giving them a rinse in the dishwasher.

I do not have a dishwasher. so must gather up my spare fermenting bin, some VWP Cleaner Sterliser powder, and everything I want to sterlise. In this case that’s 20 glass 500ml bottles, 4 plastic 1 litre bottles, a bottler, a hyrdometer and my trial jar. First step, fill the bin with hot water and put a few teaspoons of VWP in it.

VWP Cleaner Steriliser

And yes, I am doing it all in the bath, it’s the easiest way unless you have an enormous sink. Right then, let’s add the bottles etc:

You need to leave the kit sterilising for about 15 mins. Then you need to rinse everything thoroughly before you use it. I swill everything a couple of times under the cold tap. Be warned that bending over the bath for ages does take it’s toll on your back. Here’s all the kit ready to go:

I’m predicting I get 14 litres of cider out of my original 15 litres of juice. There’s always some sludge at the bottom which you don’t want, and I may have, er, depleted stocks a little by drinking all those samples last week.

Now this next bit it optional, but I think worth it. Add a teaspoon of brewing sugar to each bottle (or 2 to the big litre ones) and this’ll do a couple of things for you. 1, make it a bit sweeter, and 2) with any luck it’ll kick off a little secondary fermentation in the bottle and give your brew a nice bit of fizz.

Getting the sugar in the bottle is a bit awkward, but as you can see from the photo, my lovely wife is using a funnel to make it easier:

Now onto the bottling itself. You can fill straight from the tap, but the better way of doing it is by using a bottler. This just fits onto the tap as so:

Then it’s just a case of turning the tap on and the bottler will fill up, but the cider won’t go anywhere till you place a bottle over it and press up on the valve at the bottom:

As you can see from the excitement on my face, this is a thrilling job. Tip: sit on a chair as you do this to save further crippling after the agonisng back pain when sterilising.

And here we are, the final product. Assuming I filled the 500ml bottles a bit high, I’d say that’s pretty close to the estimated 14 litres. Now to pop a couple in the fridge for an early tasting later tonight!

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