Last November I started my annual batch of hard cider brewing. I had enough steamed-fruit juice and fresh-pressed cider to make 15 gallons. The recipes included steam juice of various apples, plums, sweet cherries, blueberries, and rhubarb. The ratios were approximately 1 gallon nonapple fruit juice to 4 gallons apple (mix of fresh and steamed juice). I have found that adding nonapple fruit juice brings needed tannins (rhubarb), body, and bouquet to the largely dessert-apple cider that I can make with available local apples (traditional cider apples are hard to find).
This past weekend I racked-off the cider from the primary fermentation carboys to fresh carboys for secondary, malolactic fermentation. This is a step that brings the cider into its early maturity, coaxing out a mellower, deeper, less acidic profile. This is a step that is often left out of commercial, craft hard cider brewing: Ciders are bottled soon after the primary fermentation, often resulting in high-acid lighter brews (often back sweetened) that I find superficial and hard to drink.
ESB ale yeast produces a traditional dry cider.
Trappist ale yeasts focus the esters of the fruit to bring more of the fruit’s qualities to the nose and palate. They also impart a slightly sour, musky, farmhouse finish on the back of the tongue and base of the nose. This can be challenging (my response to Trappist ales as well) but I am learning to appreciate these qualities.
I have been making hard cider with juice from the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer for the last 5 years and have enjoyed all the varying results. I find that hard cider is very forgiving for the neophyte brewer. With proper sanitation and patient fermentation practices (don’t drink til at least 1 year has passed), chances are that the result of your efforts will be rewarding.
The Mehu-Liisa stainless-steel steam juicer from Finland is a versatile tool that opens up many doors to the wonders of home food preservation, steam cooking, and home brewing. I hope you will visit again to learn more about this heirloom quality kitchen marvel.