Prickly Apple is my flagship hard cider. After I started making hard cider, I soon realized how much I enjoyed not just drinking it but crafting it as well. I decided that I wanted my hard ciders and hard cider recipes to be based on organic or non-sprayed fruits and adjuncts. I wanted to know exactly what I was drinking and make my ciders without using preservatives (no added sulfites). I also wanted to make really good ciders. I didn’t want my friends to drink it to be nice to me but to look forward to the cider when they come over. I have friends that now have favorites as well as told me how I’ve turned them into hard cider snobs. I claim that proudly as a success.
I also came to appreciate that everywhere has apples, even the deserts of southern Arizona. That made me want to not only make my hard ciders and hard cider recipes from organic and non-sprayed fruits but to also make them reflect the land around me. This coalesced into both my approach to hard cider recipes and ultimately the name of my “ cidery”. Of all the fruits and possible adjuncts in the Sonoran desert, prickly pear is everywhere. I knew to truly reflect my local land, I needed to make a prickly pear cider. That led to not only my Prickly Apple hard cider recipe but ultimately, Prickly Apple Cider and pricklycider.com. It’s become not only a hard cider that I make every season but a true reflection of all the hard cider recipes I make.
My Prickly Apple hard cider recipe combines the tart dessert apples I pick from orchards around my house and prickly pear fruits that my wife and I pick from local cactuses. The answer to your unasked question is tongs. Yes, you want to use tongs, the longer the better, to pick them.
My goal for Prickly Apple hard cider is to make a robust pink hard cider that is prickly pear forward with a palate cleansing acid from the apples. Prickly pear is a unique tart fruity flavor that for me has earthy tones. I find it quite refreshing but it comes through as a puckering tartness versus acidic like you’d get from citrus.
I have struggled to keep the robust pink color. When I fermented the prickly pear in the primary with the apple juice, the color soon disappeared, which was amazing given the fuchsia pink it originally was. I’ve had better luck doing a secondary fermentation with the prickly pear juice after the apple is fermented. I have also had more luck maintaining the color when I concentrated the prickly pear juice. You will see in my Prickly Apple hard cider recipe that I add the prickly pear juice as a secondary fermentation after I concentrate it in the freezer.
Want to make your own Prickly Apple Hard Cider? Go check out the hard cider recipe in the recipe section. If you don’t have access to prickly pear fruit, search for concentrated juice. There are a couple brands that sell a concentrated juice. Need more information about how to make or enjoy hard cider? You can always get a copy of my book. It’s reasonably priced. Or, leave me a comment and I’ll responded.