Monday, February 24, 2014

Cider House Rules & Recipes

Hard cider is not just for the fall anymore, you can enjoy it all year round. By adding different flavor profiles to you batches, you can make them seasonally relevant to what fruits, or spices that are available at the time.  

And making hard cider, from pasteurized cider, is a quick and fun way to experiment with flavors. Here are are the flavors I've made and simple steps for you to make them yourself.


Apple Pie: Spicy pie aroma, but it ended up being a bit too dry for my taste, I probably used too many spices. This was the only recipe that I did with a 3 gallon batch, so the ingredients I higher then the others.
Ingredients: 1tsp nutmeg, 3 cinnamon sticks, 1 oz mace, 30 cloves.

Blueberry Basil: A lot of people questioned this combination, but once they tasted it, they were sold. I got the idea from baking fresh berry pies, sometimes I chop up fresh basil and mix it in with the filling, it has a great aroma and really compliments the berries. 
Ingredients: 2oz fresh basil, and 1 cup of blueberries, puree with an immersion blender.

Strawberry Mint: Sweet and tart, with a hint of mint, yes!
Ingredients: 1oz fresh mint and 1 pint of fresh strawberries (remove stems), puree with an immersion blender.

Lavender Mint: Very light on the palette, soft delicate flavors, very refreshing. Surprisingly, it was a crowd favorite.
Ingredients: 1oz fresh mint and 1 oz of dried lavender buds.

Serrano Mango: Cider with subtle heat! The sweet mango really compliments the pepper, I would make this again for sure.
Ingredients: 2 fresh Serranos with seeds and 1 pound of frozen mango cubes (I had a hard time finding it fresh), puree with an immersion blender.

Pear+Fig: Smooth and subtle pear flavors with sweet fig, compliment the cider really nicely.
Ingredients: 2 fresh pears (I used anjou) and 2 oz of figs, puree with an immersion blender.

Cranberry-Orange: A perfect holiday cider! I usually add some orange zest to my fresh cranberries at Thanksgiving, so that's where this winner was dreamed up. 
Ingredients: 1 large orange (zest and juice) and 1 cup of fresh cranberries, puree with an immersion blender. 10 cloves. I also used an organic Honey Crisp cider on this one.
*See step-by-step photos for this cider below.

Ginger-Orange: Inspired by my ginger wit beer that I made earlier in the year, but this one is light on the spice, just enough to make it interesting, but not over powering. 
Ingredients: 1 large orange (zest and juice) and 1 oz of fresh sliced ginger.

Pomegranate-Mandarin: I enjoyed it, but I think I will opt to make Cranberry-Orange again and omit this one. I used store bought pom juice instead of using the fruit fresh, and I think that was the missing link.
Ingredients: 2 mandarins (zest and juice) and 1 cup pomegranate juice.

What you need to make great Hard Cider

- Pasteurized cider (without preservatives DO NOT USE cider with added potassium sorbate or sodium chlorite, it will kill your yeast and not produce hard cider)
- Your choice of spices and/or fruit/pepper
- Champagne yeast creates super tiny bubbles, it's the best.
- Wine Yeast Nutrient Gives your yeast some extra nourishment.
- Pectin Enzyme This will make your cider more clear, less cloudy.


Making Flavored Hard Cider

All ciders listed above are 1 gallon batches (except Apple Pie). Purchase your favorite organic or pasteurized cider from an orchard, farmers market or local grocery store. And have fun experimenting with different flavor combinations. I found that Whole Foods has the best options for this. I was able to get these great glass 1 gallon jugs too, that I have reused in other brewing processes.   


  1. Open your 1 gallon cider and set asside 1 cup of the cider to use for seeping
  2. Add 1/2 tsp of Pectin Enzyme to your gallon of cider. This helps your cider become more clear, it breaks down the haziness of the fruit. 
  3. Add 1tsp of Wine Yeast Nutrient to your cider.
  4. Prep your flavor additives, spices, fruits etc. (examples listed above)
  5. Seep your flavoring with 1 cup of your cider. This will help kill any buggy things that may interrupt the yeast fermenting your cider, it purifies it and also allows the flavors to really mesh together. 
  6. After seeping and liquid is back to room temperature, strain it back into your 1 gallon container of cider.
  7. Pitch your yeast. You only need 1 gram per gallon
  8. Make sure to use an air-lock on your gallon so that bubbles can escape as yeast are working on making it hard for you. 
  9. Wait 1-2 weeks, then rack your cider to a clean/sterilized gallon jug. 
  10. After 1 week in the secondary, its bottling time.
  11. A 1 gallon batch usually produces about 8-9 (12 oz bottles) or about 4-5 (22 oz bombers), have those cleaned are ready to go.
  12. If bottle conditioning, add about 1 oz of sugar to your fermented cider so that the yeast can carbonate the beverage in the bottle after you cap it. I've heard you can also use honey, which would go lovely with a hard cider, but I have yet to try this method.
  13. Wait 2 weeks, and enjoy the "hard" labor. Cheers!

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