I know it is the wrong time of year for making Apple Cider however this tidbit is quite helpful, since we write our books at any time of the year. Perhaps it is harvesting time for your character. Or perhaps they make a mistake while bottling the cider. Hmm, what could happen? LOL only the fruitful mind of the writer knows. Enjoy!
In making cider see that the mill, the press, and all the materials be sweet an clean and the straw free from must. The fruit should be ripe, but not rotten, and when the apples are ground, if the juice is left in pumice 24 hours, the cider will be richer, softer and higher colored. If the fruit be all of one kind it is generally thought that the cider will be better; as the fermentation will be more regular. The juice of the fruit, as it comes from the press should be placed in open headed casks or vats: in this situation, it is likely to undergo a proper fermentation, and the person attending may, with great correctness, ascertain when the first fermentation ceases; this is of great importance, and must be particularly attended to. The fermentation is attended with a hissing noise, bubbles rising to the surface and there forming a soft spongy crust over the liquor. When this crust begins to crack, and a white froth appears x in the cracks level with the surface of the head, the fermentation is about stopping. At this time the liquor is in the fine genuine clear state, and mW be drawn off immediately into clean casks; and this is the time to fumigate it with sulphur. To do this, take a strip of canvass or rag, about two inches broad and twelve inches long, dip this into melted sulphur, and when a few pails of worked cider are put into the cask, set this match on fire and hold it in the cask till it is consumed, then bung the cask and shake it that the liquor may incorporate with, and retain the fumes; after this, fill the cask and bung it Bp. This cider should be racked off again the latter part of February, or first of March; and if not as clear as you wish it, put in isinglass, to fine; and stir it well; then put the cask in a cool place where it will not be disturbed, for the finery to settle. Cider, prepared in this manner will keep sweet for years.
Mr. Deane observes "I have found it answer well to do nothing to cider till March, or the beginning of April, except giving a cask a small vent hole, and keeping it open till the first fermentation is over; then draw it off into good casks; and then fine it with skim milk, eggs broke up with the shells, or molasses. A quart of molasses will give a fine flavour to a barrel of cider, as well as carry all the lees to the bottom. But lest it should incline the liquor to prick I put in at the same time a quart of rum or brandy; and it seldom fails of keeping well to the end of summer. Cellars in which cider is kept should have neither doors nor windows kept open in the summer, and the casks should stand steady and not be shaken to disturb the sediment.
The casks which contains new cider should be filled perfectly full to permit the froth or pummice to discharge itself at the bung. The pressure of the pummice should be slow that the liquor may run the clearer. Some say that if the cider be racked off in a week after it is made, ceasing the moment it becomes muddy; in ten days a second time, and in fifteen days a third time, it will need no other process for fining or purifying it. In every instance the casks should be clean, and perfectly filled, and when filled for the last time should be bunged up close, and placed in a deep, dry cellar, never to be moved _.till drawn off for use. *
The later the apples hang on the trees, the more spirit the cider will contain. In bottling cider it is recommended to raise the proof of the cider by putting in about two tea spoonfuls of French brandy to each bottle, which will check fermentation, and prevent the bursting of the bottled.
Source Family Receipts ©1831