I always like to age my hard cider, which means I need to plan ahead for my holiday batches. I usually make special batches for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I need the forethought to keep some of the previous harvest in reserve or use some juice and mix up a summer batch. Great Pumpkin Hard Cider uses store bought juice and pumpkin purée because you can pick it up in late spring or early summer and have this batch ready for the fall festivities. It’s a great hard cider to have after a day of picking or pressing apples. The apple, pumpkin, and spices blend to give you memories of cool days, bright sun, and walks under the trees.
This is a classic adjunct cider that will benefit from a acidic dessert apple base. That’s perfect for store bought juice, which is usually made from acidic dessert apples. If you remember, one of my early tips was about when to press or not. Whether you regularly use store bought juice or press your own, grab a gallon and some canned pumpkin and mix up a batch of Great Pumpkin hard cider. Don’t forget the spices, but you probably already have them in the cupboard.
Remember that you can always adapt this hard cider recipe to your preferred method. I use kegs and I filter and force carbonate but you can just as easily age, cold crash, and fine this hard cider. If you find it’s too dry, you can back sweeten with a touch of organic stevia or erythritol, which are sweeteners that won’t ferment. While I don’t use it often, I am leaning more toward organic erythritol. Its not as sweet as sugar but it doesn’t seem to have the aftertaste many note with stevia. I suggest embracing dry. 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.
I also filter my hard ciders but you can simply age them longer, cold crash them, and use fining to help you clarify your hard ciders. The same is true for carbonation. If you want to bottle condition this cider to 2.50 volumes, you can add 25 grams of priming sugar per gallon. This should give you the 2.50 volumes assuming you didn’t degas your hard cider after primary. If you are are not using kegs, always remember to limit your oxygen exposure, especially in your headspace when aging.
This cider should have an ABV in the 6.5-7% range but it will depend on the sugar level of the juice you are using. If you find your juice is low on sugar, you could increase this by adding some sugar into your primary. I’ve never found a juice below 1.050 but I know some do. Consider using some brown sugar as it will add to the fall character of this hard cider recipe. Remember that each 10 grams of sugar per gallon (2.6 grams per liter) will add about 0.13% ABV potential your juice.
This hard cider is all about fall and it will pair exceptionally well with many desserts and sweets. Think apple pie, pumpkin pie, doughnuts, or any fall sweet you can imagine. I also suggest it works well with turkey sandwiches and stuffing.
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