Where growing, making & good living come together

The weekend of exploding cider bottles

Posted by on Monday 20 June 2011 in homebrewing | 7 comments

It actually started on Thursday night/Friday morning. I woke up to find Lily-dog shut out of the kitchen and John inside the kitchen looking confused. There were bits of glass on the floor but not enough to be a whole bottle or glass – but he couldn’t find the rest of whatever had broken. He was inspecting the empty beer bottles from Wednesday night’s beery evening when Detective Louisa stepped up and suggested the cider – which was housed at the other end of the kitchen, about 4m away – may be to blame. Lo and beyond, the rest of the shattered bottled was found.

John cleared up and put a towel over the remaining bottles – just in case any others decided to go bang. And go bang they did – yesterday morning while I was relaxing (well, gaming) on the sofa in the next room. I have no idea how we missed the first one – the second boom was LOUD. It turned out three bottles had broken – presumably one had set the other too off, and they had also shattered the glass of the kitchen clock (which was above the bottles) and left deep scars in its plastic. Thankfully the towel had caught most of the glass – but sticky cider dripped everywhere.

While he was cleaning up that lot, he put the remaining five bottles into a strong plastic bucket, with a piece of wood on the top, weighed down with a 2kg weight. Just after he’d finished cleaning up, one of those bottles exploded too – the force of the explosion didn’t break the other bottles but it was enough to lift the wood & weight to spray small bits of glass in the vicinity of the bucket. John immediately decanted the cider from the remaining bottles into strong plastic bottles and vowed that it would be drunk by his family that afternoon (it was).

We think a few things might have caused the explosions:

  1. a little too much sugar added at the last stage
  2. not enough air space left in each bottle
  3. the bottles weren’t a strong as they appeared – he’d reused old shop-bought cider/beer bottles as instructed by experts/other homebrewers but perhaps they weren’t as strong as they should be. It was the bottles that gave way, not the caps popping off.

Whatever happened though, it was frickin’ scary and definitely something we don’t want to repeat. I can only imagine the damage it would have done to us or the animals if we’d been in the kitchen at the time.

Have you had homebrew explode before? What precautions do take to avoid it?

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Week off fun: apple pressing, egg pickling, bread baking & bean bag making

Posted by on Tuesday 26 October 2010 in charity shopping, cooking, making, preserving | 0 comments

Hurrah! My week off has started well.

Last week was a busy one – working as usual during the day, then in the evenings, Tuesday through to Sunday, I was at Bingley Little Theatre for one reason or another (mostly rehearsals/show nights for the weekend’s studio productions). That ate into my fun making-and-doing time somewhat so I’m glad I’ve got the week off this week to catch up on fun stuff.

When I got back from the theatre at 10:30pm on Friday night, John had just started pressing some apples for cider. We had to give back the borrowed fruit press at lunchtime on Saturday so I was enlisted to help. We pressed until just after midnight then again for a couple of frantic hours on Saturday morning – got through about 40lbs of apples – about half-and-half from John’s Grandma’s apple tree and windfall from John B (who also provided the loan of the press). We’ve got 2 gallons of cider on the go now and there were a few litres left over which John’s drinking as juice.

Sunday was chore day – I cleaned out the chicken coop as normal and let the girls out into the wider (not fenced in) garden for the first time too. Lime and Blue were the only ones interested in exploring and they de-weeded/scratch-scratch peeked the bed nearest to their coop. I’ll definitely use them again for that before planting out time next year!

So to yesterday – my first full day off. It started slowly, stretched out in the sun with the animals and catching up on the weekend papers, but then I pickled some more eggs (this time it was garlic & pepper, recipe to follow) and tried a new bread recipe for the first time, a new dough recipe to make layered rolls. When I’m learning how to bake something new, I like to “grind” it – a video game term for doing a repetitive task over and over again to “level up” – so I’m going to make those at least every other day this week. Mmm, bread rolls.

Later on, after a walk with the Lily dog, I made a giant bean bag for said hound – using a very retro-cool single duvet cover I found in a charity shop in Guiseley on Saturday. It was easy to make but I’ll write a full how-to soon, mostly because I have several comedy photos of the cats and dog “helping”.

Today has had another slow start but I think it’ll continue with some soup making, maybe some biscuit baking, some jamming (since we did our once-every-six-weeks shop last night and had to pull some blackberries out of the freezer to make way for half price ice cream), and since my sewing machine is out, some more stitchery. Woo!

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