Let the fermentation begin.

I received a wonderful gift for Christmas - a nice kit made by the great people at Wine and Beer Makers Supply. It included everything necessary to make loads of wine, so I've begun.

I selected an apple recipe from the Winemaker's Recipie Handbook, mainly because apples are the closet thing to an in-season fruit, and they were fairly inexpensive.

I dropped by my local grocery superstore, and bought about 30 pounds of fuji apples. They didn't have any of the varieties that the book suggested, but fujis always seem to be full of juice, and acidic enough so I loaded up the cart.

A good note for any other winemakers out there -- it's very hard to extract the juice from 30 pounds of apples without a press of some sort. I had a nylon bag, and my hands. Thankfuly, my daughter helped cut up the apples, and did some of the extracting as well.

a nice shot of the must and the pulp-bag After the extraction, I had a nice must, and allowed the pulp to sit in the bag, with all of the chemicals added to the must, with the exception of the yeast and yeast nutrient. Allowing it to sit for 24 hours alows a few things to happen: the sediment can settle, and the juice can continue to extract some flavor from the pulp, while the chemicals added to the must stop bacterial problems.

While adding the ingredients, I wanted to make sure that I got the amount of sugar necessary for proper fermentation, so rather than using the amount specified in the recipe (about 6 pounds), I tested the specific gravity of the must, and added only what was necessary to bring the SG to 1.085, which was approximately 4.25 pounds of sugar. A specific gravity of 1.085 should result in a 11-12% alcohol content after the fermentation is complete, which is standard for a table wine, which this will eventually be.

the must after removing the pulp After the 24 hours had passed, I removed the bag of pulp, and as much of the pulp and apple pieces from the must that I could get. I then added a package of yeast, and the yeast nutrient. The fermentation should have started. But it didn't.

It turns out, I needed more heat. I had placed the primary fermentation container in the basement which was around 64 degrees F. Apparently not enough. So I moved the container to the top of our refridgerator in the kitchen. Unfortunately we have a fairly efficeint refridgerator, and it didn't help at all. I then got the bright idea to use a heating pad. I stuck the heating pad under the container, with a couple of towels on top, and turned it on. The fermentation began. And the angels rejoiced.