Hard Cider Tip #2: Color Retention

Have you ever added a pretty colored adjunct to your hard cider only to see the color disappear when you bottle it? Consider prickly pear juice. If you have ever used it, you know what I’m saying when I talk about an iridescent pink. The juice can look fake it’s so bright.

The first time I used prickly pear, I thought I was going to have this unreal pink hard cider. Here is what I got.

Original Batch: Prickly Apple Hard Cider

Are you still looking for the pink? Me too! Trust me though, it’s prickly pear. When I use an adjunct, I make sure it’s front and center. It’s got a prickly pear nose, taste, and finish. It is just missing the prickly pear pink.

That got me thinking. Where did my pretty pink go? The next experiment was using the juice in a secondary ferment.

With my first prickly pear hard cider, I mixed the prickly pear juice with the apple juice and fermented them together. For this batch. I fermented the apple juice first and added the prickly pear juice as a secondary fermentation. I also filtered this cider, but you can see that it still retained a lot more of the pink hue I wanted.

Some might have been happy with this result, but I’m always trying new ideas to develop new hard cider recipes. Having just experimented with an ice cider, I decided to first freeze concentrate my prickly pear juice before doing a secondary ferment. This is actually my Prickly Perry as I used Organic Red Bartlett pears for my base but the concept still holds.

Prickly Perry Hard Cider
Prickly Perry: Another Hard Cider by Prickly Apple Cider

This experiment taught me the following, which has been reinforced with other adjuncts.

  • Adding adjuncts to the primary fermentation can reduce the color the adjunct imparts in the final cider.
  • Adding an adjunct in either the primary or secondary will result in similar aromas and flavor generated by the adjunct.
  • Concentrating your adjunct concentrates the sugar, acid, tannins, and color.
Frozen Prickly Pear Juice: Note the vibrant raw color

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