I racked a hard cider last weeked and found myself with a big yeast cake that I didn’t want to wash down the sink. There was plenty of fresh pressed apple juice still in stores so I bought three more gallons.
For a little change, I also purchased a bottle of cranberry juice. This juice was not the cocktail stuff that has sugar added to it. This bottle claimed to have 3 pounds of cranberries in juice form within it.
So, I have another batch of hard cider in the basement and I am sure it will be ready to drink for next Thanksgiving – or some other time in the distant future. Sheesh!
Everything I have been reading says that hard cider needs to age for months and months and months. The thing is, I used to read that about meads too. I think you can turn around meads with some good yeast management. I wonder if the time needed for hard cider to be drinkable is tied to a crappy yeast pitch rate or lack of nutrients.
I don’t know for sure but here’s the recipe:
3 gallons of pressed apple juice – no preservatives – pasteurized is ok.
32 ounces of cranberry juice – no sugar added.
WLP775 English Cider Yeast – mighty starter
If you don’t have a mighty starter, add a 1/2 tsp of yeast energizer and 1/2 of yeast nutrient when you pitch your yeast.
Ferment in carboy at 60°F for at least two weeks. It may take a month until all signs of fermentation subside.
Rack to secondary vessel and let it condition for a couple of months or until it clears.
To bottle and carbonate – Boil a 1/3 of a cup of corn sugar in a pint of water for 10 minutes. Add that to your bottling bucket and rack the cider onto it. Bottle and cap as usual. Bottle condition for a couple o’ months – if you can – somewhere safe.