I made this with common dessert (eating) apples and pears. You could also use organic store juice for the apples and pears but I highly recommend you use a fresh orange so you can ensure to press the peel and include the oils. I used pears to give just a touch of residual sweetness. You might remember that pears have more sorbitol (a non-fermentable sweetener) than apples, which should help to provide a hint of balance to the acid and bitters in this cider. As you can see, I tend to get an orange hue to this cider.
I give this cider medium carbonation but you will mostly notice it in the mouthfeel. The aroma will carry citrus from both the orange and the hops and this will also come through in the finish. It will also be tart and acidic, which should cleanse your palate. I enjoy it with pizza but I enjoy every hard cider with pizza! It is a nice tipple for about any pairing because it is clean and the citrus makes it refreshing.
As always you can adapt this hard cider recipe to your preferred method. If you find it too dry, you can back sweeten with a touch of organic stevia or erythritol, which are both sweeteners that won’t ferment. While I don’t use it often, I have experimented with stevia because it’s organic. Remember, it is at least twice the sweetness of sugar. I just started trialing organic erythritol, and while its not as sweet as sugar, it doesn’t seem to have the aftertaste many note with stevia. I suggest embracing dry, but lean towards erythritol if you need sweetness. As is my normal, I don’t use sulfites or sorbates in my ciders. If you want to add, you can always add sulfites 24 hours before inoculating with yeast and before packaging if you are back sweetening with fermentable sugars. I just try to avoid additional preservatives. Hard ciders will naturally produce some sulfites as they ferment. Some yeast produce more than others.
I also filter my hard ciders but you can also simply age them longer, cold crash them, and/or use fining to help you clarify your hard ciders. The same is true for carbonation. If you want to bottle condition this cider to 2.25 volumes, you can add 21.3 grams of priming sugar per gallon (5.6 grams per liter). This should give you the additional volumes CO2 that you would need to reach 2.25. This assumes you didn’t degas the hard cider, which means you should have around 0.85 volumes of CO2 already suspended in it.
If you are not using kegs, always remember to limit your oxygen exposure by limiting your headspace when aging. Also, it can be hard to add the hops into a small necked carboy. A small mesh screen or using multiple smaller teas bags might be needed. I have dropped the hops directly into my cider but you will most likely have to filter or fine to remove them, especially the hop pellets. The last option would be to boil the hops, strain it and but the tea in the cider for aging. This will give you more bitters but might be a better option if you don’t have a good way to package the hops for aging. This cider should have an ABV in the 6-7% range. Most of all, enjoy.
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