Record Keeping for Cider

November 23, 2010

When I got to making cider from apples instead of buying juice, I found that my records were not condustive for this process because I was actually making the juice rather than buying it, which added another level of complexity. Let me walk you though it.

First off, there is the orchard and tree that I picked from on a given day. I then shred and press the apples into juice. The juice has a given specific gravity and pH.

However, maybe I only got 3 gallons of that juice, or maybe the pH was such that I need to blend it with other juice. Maybe I did start fermentation, but didn’t have more of that juice to top off when I racked.

Basically, I needed two sets of records – one to track the juice when it was pressed, and another to track the fermentation batch. I settled on a excel document to track everything, including lab results, but it is way too complicated to share with you as each batch is kind of ends up with a slightly different record. Some people suggested I just keep a notebook, but I decided that excel was better for me.

So with two sets of records, I realized I needed a kind of serial number to track everything. When tracking the pressing juice, I use the date pressed and a letter to indicate if it was the first, second, etc pressing. That record then indicates what orchard and tree the fruit came from, the specific gravity and pH, along with any lab work I did to the juice.

For the fermentation record, I decided the serial number based on Eastern North Pacific Hurricane names. See, they come up with hurricane names in alphabetical order, and each year for seven years has unique names unless it is a major storm that causes them to retire the name (see naming rules under Atlantic Names for more information). Basically, I have an alphabetized name list at my disposal, and I don’t see myself doing more than 26 batches in a year.

The fermentation record then includes what juice at what quantity was added and then resulting specific gravity and pH of the new batch. If I do any lab work and modification to that new batch, it is marked here. If I used a juice as is, the moment I pitch yeast into it, it is now treated as a fermentation record, given a name, and all the juice information is then moved into the fermentation record.

I was a bit frustrated trying to come up with a good record system, as I knew once I became a licensed winery, the government would want to audit me from time to time, so it is good to get in the habit now. If you would like to see my cidermaking spreadsheet, or discuss what I did, please email me.

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