Japanese Sunrise is a hard cider recipe focused on the Mutsu apple, which was discovered in Japan along with Shizuka and Orin apples. Initially, I thought the Mutsu would need more acid and as always, wanted to provide some residual sweetness. That led me to blend in a few additional apples. I had Enterprise and GoldRush apples available and knew they would add more acid along with a little bit of tannins. I also had some organic red pears for that touch of sweetness. I picked Mangrove M-41 Yeast for this hard cider recipe to try to add more phenolic compounds. The success of this cider led me to try a single variety Mutsu that became Silver Sun.
This hard cider is fairly straight forward. Given my goal to minimize preservatives in my diet, I don’t include sulfites. However, you can always add them 24 hours before pitching your yeast and before bottling. My approach to avoiding funky hard cider is to focus on sanitation and to prevent exposure of my hard ciders to oxygen after the primary ferment is complete.
I press, ferment, age, filter, force-carbonate, and package. But, what if you don’t have a filter or can’t force-carbonate. You can modify this hard cider recipe and still get a great tasting cider. For example, if you don’t have a filter, focus on aging longer and cold-crash the hard cider at the end. Just remember that after you rack your hard cider the first time, you don’t want to store it in plastic and you want to minimize the headspace and exposure of your hard cider to oxygen.
Why avoid plastic? Because plastic actually passes vapor. It’s why plastic soda bottles can go flat, even if they aren’t opened. If you are storing your hard cider for a few months, you shouldn’t have an issue, but if you age for longer periods, consider the impact. You want to avoid oxygen exposure after the fermentation. That also means to minimize the headspace in your aging container. Glass carboys work well, but you might need to add water, more juice, or other hard cider to fill up any headspace. This is why I like kegs, because you can purge the oxygen with carbon dioxide (CO2) and don’t need to dilute your hard cider.
Also, you can cold-crash your hard cider, which is simply placing the cider in a refrigerator or cold environment. This causes the yeast to be stressed and flocculate together, growing heavy, and settling to the bottom. Filtering is not required to make a clear hard cider. Aging and cold-crashing can give you one as well. See more information on clarifying hard cider in the tips section. However, also remember that hazy cider can also be good hard cider.
If you can’t filter, you probably can’t force-carbonate your hard cider. Again, you have a good alternative: bottle-conditioning. Bottle-conditioning is simply adding a small amount of sugar to a hard cider right before you bottle it, and using either the residual yeast or adding some yeast to create CO2 that will be forced into the hard cider. Remember, most hard cider will have around 0.8-0.9 volumes of CO2 already suspended in it after the primary ferment is done. If you want 2.0 volumes of CO2, you would need to add approximately 17 grams of sugar to a gallon of hard cider. I’d also recommend adding CBC-1 bottle-conditioning yeast when you add your sugar. This is made to be a neutral flavor profile and form a dense cake at the bottom of the bottles. This helps when pouring to avoid mixing the lees caused by bottle-conditioning into your clear hard cider.
This cider should have an ABV in the 6.5-7.5 range. The carbonation will be light to medium, and the color will be a rich gold to light amber. It has a touch of tartness and a note of tannins. It’s great to pair with almost anything, but I really enjoy it with barbecue.
Let me know how your batch turned out and what food you enjoyed with it. If you have questions, leave a comment or check out my hard cider tips section or book for more details.
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