For the second year in a row I was fortunate to be able to attend the AABG private apple pressing at the Grainger’s Orchard. I was a little more conservative with how much cider I brought home this year (8 gal vs 15 last year). I had originally signed up to bring home 6 gals with the intention of making a basic 5 gal cider and then figuring out something to do with the extra gallon. The opportunity presented itself while at the pressing to pick up a couple of extra gallons, and I got the crazy idea to make some cysers, so why not, right?
A while ago I discovered my local grocery store carried a Montmorency cherry concentrate (no preservatives) made from Michigan grown cherries. I picked up a few bottles with the intention of finding a fermentation use for them. Making some cider and cyser seemed like the perfect opportunity.
With the help of my wife, I made four different apple juice based beverages:
- Apple Cider – 5+ gallons of straight juice fermented with White Labs WLP775
- Cherry Cider – 8 oz of cherry concentrate mixed with 1 gallon of apple juice, using Lalvin 71B
- Straight Cyser – 1.5 lbs of honey filled up to 1 gallon with apple juice, using Lalvin 71B
- Cherry Cyser – 1.5 lbs of honey, 8 oz of cherry concentrate, and filled up to 1 gallon with apple juice, using Lalvin 71B
I added some nutrients prior to fermentation, a mix of DAP and Fermaid K, as apple juice does have some nitrogen but not nearly as much as wort would. I opted for only a single nutrient addition on all of them as the ciders won’t have any trouble finishing out with only a single addition (based on past experience), and if the cysers have a little residual sweetness I won’t be upset. I added the nutrients immediately prior to pitching the yeast.
This was also my first time using pectic enzyme. I’ve never bothered in the past, but I picked some up recently for an upcoming melomel (using red currants) and decided I’d find out what effect it will have on clarity. My past ciders have always been a little hazy, so maybe I’ll finally have one that is crystal clear. The pectic enzyme works much faster than I expected, with visible settling occurring less than an hour after adding it.
With any luck some of this might be drinkable by Christmas, though I won’t count on it. I’ll probably post up some tasting notes on these when they’re ready.