If you are ever near where manzanita trees grow, I encourage you to find one. They are a gorgeous tree. In southern Arizona you can find them on some of the mountains and they surround one of the orchards that I pick, which is around an elevation of 5,800 feet. The wood of the tree is so beautiful but it can look fake. The fruit or berry that is produced is quite astringent and since manzanita means little apple in Spanish, it is natural choice for a cider adjunct. There are a couple ways you can use this berry. I tend to pick them early, chop them, and boil them to extract the flavors and sugars. You could also pick them late when they are dried and brew the berries like a tea. I once tried to juice them, which resulted in me buying a new juicer. I now chop and boil them to extract the contents. The berries get redder and drier as the season progresses. Following the orchard owner’s advice, I picked them early. As a kid, he said they made a lemonade out of them.
For this hard cider, I used SafAle BE-256 Yeast, which is a Belgium Abbaye strain. It tends to add fruity and tropical aromas including banana. It’s fermentation temperature is a little cool for my normal fermentation temperate as it is 59-68F (17-20C) but, I fermented it at my usual 72F (22C). I had a specific gravity of 1.049 and a pH of 3.65 at 76.2F. I used pectin enzyme and racked the cider off the pectin dregs. I mixed in some pears to improve the residual sweetness and some quince for additional tannins and astringency along with the manzanita betters. You could easily substitute crab apples for the quince. This cider is off-dry with sweet fruity and floral aromas. I carbonated it to 2.25 volumes CO2, which gives it just enough carbonation to help release some of the aromas. Here are quick links to my Li’l Apple Cider recipe as well as the recipe section where you can find inspiration from a multitude of hard ciders recipes.