While the research by M. Lorenzini and associates was done to assess the impact of yeast on volatile compounds in hard cider(1), I found it interesting for another reason. As part of the study, they noted the amount of ethanol each yeast produced and the corresponding residual sugar (glucose and fructose) and sorbitol. They also noted the amount of malic and acetic acid associated with each yeast. Remember that the standard yeast genus used for wine and beer is saccharomyces cerevisiae. Also note that Lallemand’s EC1118 is often recommended for use with cider though it’s not one I personally recommend.
For me, this data highlights the potential benefits that non-saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts could provide to hard cider. Several non-saccharomyces yeasts offer higher residual sugars and two even offer higher sugar and sorbitol, which is a non-fermentable sweetener. You will also note that some of these offer lower malic acid though a couple have higher acetic acid. I have learned that the apple variety usually plays a large role in the fermentation process. However, these ciders were all made from Golden Delicious apples to reduce that variable. While other varieties may not react in the exact same way, we can use this as a guide to how fermenting with each yeast could impact your cider. Yes, there is the whole aroma and volatile compound element of the research, but we can save that for another Mâlus Trivium.
If you are wondering how you might find alternative yeasts for your cider production, there are a several options. You can find some choices with commercial yeast providers like White Labs, Mangrove, and Lallemand, but you can also obtain more unusual strains from government resources and universities. I recently received 11 yeast samples from the NRRL Culture Collection.
US Government: NRRL Culture Collection
US Universities: Phaff Yeast Culture Collection at UCDavis
UK Government: National Collection of Yeast Cultures
(1) M. Lorenzini and associates, Assessment of yeasts for apple juice fermentation and production of cider volatile compounds, LWT – Food Science and Technology 99 (2019) 224–230
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