Jump to content

Alcohol Yields of Apple - Cost Modeling


spiritofmaine

Recommended Posts

Looking to get some yield data to build a cost model for apple distillates.

1. Brunner and Tanner claim that apples have a mean yield 5l pure ethanol / 100 kg raw fruit. Can anyone who has gone though the entire mash/ferment/distill cycle comment on the accuracy of this number?

2. Can anyone chime in on the yield of 1 gal of raw cider in terms of pure alcohol produced?

Is there any insight on a better/best way to analyse cost/yield using apple as the base looking to make calvados or an apple vodka.

I do not need to factor into the cost of paying all the other bills, just the cost of the raw materials without any processing or bottling.

Using the Brunner Tanner yield estimate, it seems pretty clear that I would have a hard time making ends meet if I had to buy apples near $1.00/kilo (would anyone even sell at that price)?

Please discuss.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll base these numbers on the size of wash I run, 100 gallons. It makes it easier for me.

It takes about 15 lbs of apples to make 1 gallon of apple juice. To make 100 gallons of juice would take 1,500 pounds of apples.

The going rate for a pound of apples in the states is about $1.15, so you'd have to spend about $1,725 for the raw apples. Then you'd have to pay for the juicing of those apples.

Apple juice has an average SG of 1.05, which will give you 6.5% ABV wash if it goes to 1.00.

I run 100 gallon washes of 12%, which produces about 4 cases (48 bottles) of 40% spirits.

So, ballparkiing this for ya, I'd say you'd be getting a little better than 2 cases of 40% from 100 gallons of 6.5% wash. That's not very good return for spending about $1,725 for your wash.

Depends on the still though, if you can condense the heads and tails more then you'll get more usable product. I'm running a pot and thumper so I get tons of flavor but my head/tail cuts are pretty big.

The only way that this really pencils out is if you own an orchard or have a very high retail price. Or, make it from concentrate.

The numbers for apple concentrate are:

55 gallon drum of apple concentrate = $1,000

Mix ratio = 1 to 6, so you would yield 330 gallons of apple juice

cost of 100 gallon wash - $333 (way more cost effective)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good rack and cloth press should bring that 15#/gal down to around 12#/gal. Maybe even 10#/gal, depending on the apples. The trade off is labor - rack and cloth is a bit higher pressing cost.

And the $/lb for juice grade sort outs is a lot lower. As low as $0.07/lb. Up to about $0.25/lb for locally grown, small orchard, heirloom cultivars.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bought a gallon of local cider today and Brix tested it and it came out at :11, I.e. 5.8% potential alcohol. It cost me 5 bucks. I understand we can source apple juice for roughly $3.00 per gallon in bulk. So I believe the numbers stated above for juice is way high.

As a side issue, I can't see why any form of fruit juice concentrate would be any cheaper than the raw juice. In fact I would think it might be a bit higher do to process cost. It's my understanding that the only reason juice is concentrated is for storage and/or transportation. But it is still the same juice, and same basic cost ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not quite accurate. Modern concentrates are done with a thin film evaporation technique. Quite cool. It's not supposed to carmelize - it certainly ferments below 1.000. But it does undergo Mallaird reactions. Those reduce the YAN - already low in apple. And they affect the color of the fermented cider - it's more yellow than using raw juice. But that's not important on the distilling side. It _can_ be lacking in volatiles. It's not _supposed_ to be. The volatiles are condensed out of the vapor stream and are supposed to be added back to the concentrate. But since those same volatiles are also available separately ('natural apple flavor') obviously it doesn't all make it back in.

In the UK, concentration is used to time-shift demand for fermentation space and the big cider companies do pressing, concentration and fermentation in a combined facility. Then another feature of concentrate must be dealt with - it can be infected with osmotic pressure tolerant, sorbate resistant yeasts. Zygosaccharamyces - but pardon my spelling, since I'm doing this from memory. That means a 'hard' cider maker's is left with only thermal, in-bottle pasteurization as a stabilization option. Doesn't matter to distilling.

Concentrate is cheaper than juice because it's coming from places where the price for raw juice is even lower than the $2-3/gal you can find here. But the days of $8/gal for 70 brix concentrate (considered 7x) from China (5 gal pail) are over. China has acquired a taste for apple juice, and it's raising the price of commodity apples. Not so high that the US can compete yet, of course. But the AJC you find these days is often from South Africa, rather than China. I haven't been able to source USA AJC in the last 10 years - the brokers I use can't/won't source it. Angry Orchard is pulling concentrate from Italy and Eastern Europe - and talking it up. <eye roll\> Marketing. <\eye roll>

Other reasons to consider 'chaptalizing' with AJC to make an apple wine, rather than distilling a simple cider (or not) : fermenting into 12%+ ABV range shifts the solubilities in the wine phase. You get a different aromatic profile. And you _can_ keep aromas at high ABV - in fact you can get more due to those changing solubilities - but you have to mind which yeast you are using and watch temp and fermentation rate, lest you blow them all out of the tank via CO2 bubble stripping. Secondly, if you have a simple pot still, or very low rectification hybrid still, it may simply function (separate hearts from tails) better with a higher ABV. At least in the first pass.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pano,

Thanks for your detailed response and insight. I had a follow on question....

I run 100 gallon washes of 12%, which produces about 4 cases (48 bottles) of 40% spirits.

... I'm confused about what you mean by washes of 12%? Where is that 12% figure coming from?

Charles,

Thanks for your yield insights.. Now doubt you have a lot of expertise and I hope to learn from it..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A 12% wash comes from a starting gravity of 1.08 of the fermentation and a final gravity of .995 or so.

Sounds like you could find cheap juice apples at a better cost than what I found. The price for the concentrate is from Tree Top, they have a raw ingredients company called Naturals. I've also found it for $700, but that didn't include shipping.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I run 100 gallon washes of 12%, which produces about 4 cases (48 bottles) of 40% spirits.

........................ but my head/tail cuts are pretty big.

Where are these numbers wrong?

100 gallons of 12% contains 12 gallons of pure alcohol

48 750 mL bottles of 40% contain 3.8 gallons of alcohol ??

Where has the rest gone?

A small? amount will be thrown out with the heads, very little will be completely lost if you rerun the tails in the next run.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my run making gin;

1000 mil, of foreshots @ 145 pr

5 gallons of heads @ 144 to 138 pr

5 gallons hearts @ 137 to 127 pr

5 gallons of tails @ 126 to 100 pr or so.

I tried reusing the gin fents but it screws up my gin profile when compaired to the origianl run that I reallly like. We run a pot with a thumper so the heads are pretty big.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I typically get an 80% (of potential alcohol) hearts yield, not counting the last tails collection that doesn't get recovered until the next batch.

Do you mean that 80% of the distillate you collect is hearts on the first run?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, I meant 80% = pg of all hearts / pg cider fermented. Collected over 5-10 runs. Less the last proof gallon or so in the tails that sit and wait for the next batch of cider.

I've seen higher than 80%. (up to 95%) Rarely lower than 80%. I've checked the ABV of the stillage, since I assume that's where the loss is. But only with a quick ABV = f(SG, Brix) estimation. It's consistent - but not definitive. We collect tails down to 30-40 proof, indicated. Hearts are usually 140-145 pf. Tails are 70-90 pf, depending on just how far we let it run out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

No, I meant 80% = pg of all hearts / pg cider fermented. Collected over 5-10 runs. Less the last proof gallon or so in the tails that sit and wait for the next batch of cider.

I've seen higher than 80%. (up to 95%) Rarely lower than 80%. I've checked the ABV of the stillage, since I assume that's where the loss is. But only with a quick ABV = f(SG, Brix) estimation. It's consistent - but not definitive. We collect tails down to 30-40 proof, indicated. Hearts are usually 140-145 pf. Tails are 70-90 pf, depending on just how far we let it run out.

To clarify: if you, for example, start with a 100 gal 10% ABV wash you'd end up with 16 proof gallons of finished spirit ([100gal x 10%] / 0.50] = 20 proof gallons x 80% efficiency yield = 16 proof gallons)? Which is the same as 20 gallons or 100x 750ml bottles at 80 proof (40% ABV).

Thank you for the clarification. Great reference/benchmark!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

........................ my conversion was 13pounds to 3.78litres of apple juice, .....................

David, could you please explain what you mean?

I am particularly interested in this thread because I

have just finished ( a few minutes ago) distilling 2,400 litres of apple cider. Haven't done all the yield calcs yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3.78L/13 pounds of fruit is about 4 gal/bushel. Which is high yeild for a press, but not unheard of.

I think it unlikely that pulp would make the fermenation stick, or make reduced sulfur. Depending on the source, apple juice can be down around 40-50 ppm YAN. Well below the 200ppm recommended by Scott labs for wine fermentations, let alone whatever is required by the yeast and temperature you happen to be using.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PeteB

I use high yielding apples for my juice I tend to lean towards Jonagold apples as they produce the most juice and the juice is very light in colour and very sweet similar to a honeycrisp apple, I prefer the jonagold for fresh eating and juicing and for fermenting. Not sure what you want me to expand on but I find that if I do not filter the fresh pressed juice very well right away then when I start fermenting and the solids in the juice will settle at the bottom of the tank and the hard cider produced will be reductive from the solids rotting at the bottom it will give a rotten egg smell and flavour to the hard cider. it can be fixed by adding copper to the process but I rather not have to do that.

not sure if that helps or not

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3.78L/13 pounds of fruit is about 4 gal/bushel. Which is high yeild for a press, but not unheard of.

I think it unlikely that pulp would make the fermenation stick, or make reduced sulfur. Depending on the source, apple juice can be down around 40-50 ppm YAN. Well below the 200ppm recommended by Scott labs for wine fermentations, let alone whatever is required by the yeast and temperature you happen to be using.

Oh man, you Americans make your maths complicated with your antique units of measurement, then you jumble them up to make it even harder, but on the other hand you simplify your spelling :wacko:

I think I now understand you meant you get 1US gallon (3,78 L) of juice from 13 pounds of fruit or as Charles said 4 US gallons per bushel of fruit. I know a bushel is a measurement of volume but have no idea if a US bushel is the same as an imperial bushel. It appears from your example that a US bushel of apples weighs 4X13 = 42 pounds US

3.78 litres (liters;) per 13 pounds

3.78 litres per 5.9 Kg

which is very close to

1 litre of juice per 1.5 Kg of apples

or for these apples they were 66% juice by weight

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PeteB

I use high yielding apples for my juice I tend to lean towards Jonagold apples as they produce the most juice and the juice is very light in colour and very sweet similar to a honeycrisp apple, I prefer the jonagold for fresh eating and juicing and for fermenting. Not sure what you want me to expand on but I find that if I do not filter the fresh pressed juice very well right away then when I start fermenting and the solids in the juice will settle at the bottom of the tank and the hard cider produced will be reductive from the solids rotting at the bottom it will give a rotten egg smell and flavour to the hard cider. it can be fixed by adding copper to the process but I rather not have to do that.

not sure if that helps or not

Would fermenting in a conical and dropping/removing the solids as it ferments accomplish the same thing as filtering?

Wouldn't distilling also remove any smell?

Are you referring to adding copper while distilling or fermenting?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A bushel is 8 dry gallons. About 269 cu. in. vs. 231 cu in for a US wine gallon. The weight/bushel varies by commodity. The accepted values for apples even varies from US State to State based on tables for crop insurance. The range is 40-48 pounds avoirdupois, but 42 is common, and is close enough for this discussion. Don't get hung up on trying to estimate to precisely. For your interest, the USDA number for pears is 60#/bu.

Cidermakers ferment without filtering all the time. It just takes nutrition management. Sulfide (mostly) comes from stressed yeast, not decomposing sediment. Some French and UK traditionalists, along with some white wine makers ferment ezymatically clarified must. But it's clarified by exploiting pectin chemistry along with flotation, centrifugation and just plain racking. Not filtration. And the purpose is to further deplete YAN (as asparagine) and niacin to try to stretch primary ferment to months duration, rather than days. Distillers tend to avoid the technique because it deliberately generates methanol.

Copper sulfate is added in bad sulfide cases. Cupper sulfide precipitates out and settles to the bottom. But H2SO4 is generated, which oxides the cider.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

we're considering using apple juice concentrate to chaptalize our apple juice. I've been able to source US frozen apple juice concentrate in bulk. Are people who are using concentrate getting it frozen?

Price works out to about the same I am paying for local apple juice. Has anyone been able to source organic US grown apple juice concentrate?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes. It comes frozen. The room temp shelf life is less than a month, if I recall correctly. No, I haven't been able to find US grown concentrate - organic or conventional - in the last 10 years.

I was able to find conventional, but not organic. The price wasn't too bad, but supply is low. Not sure that we're gonna go this route though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...