No Or­chard? No Press? No Prob­lem!

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents: April/may 2015 - By Dave Car­pen­ter

Mak­ing the best cider you can from the juice you have.

How to make the best cider you can from the juice that you have.

MAK­ING CIDER AT HOME

is as re­ward­ing as mak­ing your own beer or wine, and you’re in luck if you own an or­chard or know some­one who does. The rest of us, how­ever, have to do the best we can with what’s avail­able, and most of the time that means buy­ing juice. We reached out to cider ex­perts Diane Flynt of Vir­ginia’s Foggy Ridge Cider and Aaron Fodge from Colorado’s Branch Out Cider to learn how home cider mak­ers can get the most from what’s avail­able.

Use the Best Juice Pos­si­ble

“To make good cider at home you will need to make the ef­fort to ob­tain juice that has a bal­ance of tan­nin, acid, and sugar, all of which are es­sen­tial for a good, or even pass­able, cider,” ad­vises Diane. “The best op­tion is to visit farmer’s mar­kets or con­tact or­chards that sell freshly pressed juice.”

Home cider mak­ers who live in ap­ple-grow­ing re­gions can speak di­rectly to farm­ers in the au­tumn and ob­tain freshly pressed juice. Some or­chards even freeze juice for sale through­out the year. Pas­teur­ized juices make per­fectly good cider, but some en­thu­si­asts main­tain that the heat of pas­teur­iza­tion drives off volatile aro­mat­ics and re­sults in a less com­plex fin­ished cider. It’s up to you to weigh this against the very small, but nonzero, risk of E. coli in­fec­tion.

If you opt for a shelf-sta­ble prod­uct, it’s im­por­tant to seek out juice that is free of preser­va­tives such as sor­bate and sul­fites, as th­ese in­hibit yeast ac­tiv­ity and will in­ter­fere with fer­men­ta­tion. Ascor­bic acid (vi­ta­min C) is an ac­cept­able ad­di­tive, but the less pro­cessed the bet­ter.

You can use off-the-shelf gro­cery store ap­ple juice as a last re­sort, but such prod­ucts aren’t built with cider in mind: They’re meant to be con­sumed as-is and will be made from a blend of ap­ples of un­known prove­nance.

What­ever juice you choose, re­mem­ber Diane’s ad­vice: “You will put a lot of ef­fort into your made-at-home cider, so start with the best in­gre­di­ents you can find!”

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