Lil’l Apple Cider Recipe

Li’l Apple Cider Recipe

This hard cider recipe uses local manzanita berries from around one of the Southern Arizona orchards I pick. Manzanita berries are also found in other states in the US and may be found in other cointries. However, you could use this recipe for any local berry, especially those that are firm and don’t press well. I mix in pears to increase the residual sweetness. I also add quince or if you don’t have those, use crab apples. Manzanita has a wonderful floral aroma and some astringency. Mix that with a little sweetness and some acid, and you have a wonderful blend for a great fruity cider. Besides that, it also comes from a gorgeous tree as you can see from the bark sample below.

The bark of the manzanita tree.
The bark of the manzanita tree.
Manzanita Berries
Manzanita Berries – Early Season

This cider started with a specific gravity of 1.049 and pH of 3.65 at 76.2F. It fermented dry using SafAle BE-256 yeast. I fermented it at around 72F (22C) and let it settle for 3 weeks before racking and aging it. Because I added pectic enzyme and racked it off the pectin dregs, I used closer to 20 pounds (9kg) of fruit to account for more loss.

Process Alternatives:

As always you can adapt this hard cider recipe to your preferred method. As is my normal, I don’t use sulfites or sorbates in my ciders. If you want, you can always add sulfites 24 hours before inoculating with yeast and both sulfite and sorbate before packaging if you are back sweetening with fermentable sugars. I just try to avoid additional preservatives whenever possible. You might check out my article on killing your juice if you are interesting in exploring this more. Hard ciders will naturally produce some sulfites as they ferment. Different yeast varieties produce more than others.

I also filter my hard ciders but you can simply age them longer, cold crash them, and/or use fining to help clarify your hard ciders. Check my tips section out for more details in these items. The same is true for carbonation. If you want to bottle condition this cider to 2.25 volumes, you can add 21 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. If you are looking for some variations on this recipe, consider the following.

  • Different Berries: If you don’t have manzanita berries near you, what type of local berries can you find? Softer berries like blueberries, elderberries, or raspberries can be pressed but you might also want to ferment on the whole berry. If you have firmer and drier berries like manzanita, you might need to create a tea by boiling these after chopping them up.
  • Crabapples: If you don’t have access to quince, crabapples would provide a similar addition for tannins. This would also help if your local berries are not high in tannins.
  • Yeast Alternatives: Consider using a different yeast. The world is full of yeast so besides inoculating with different strains, you could instead use the natural or wild yeast on your fruit and equipment.
  • Back Sweeten: If you desire a sweeter hard cider, consider adding 40 grams per gallon (10.5 grams per liter) of organic erythritol to the cider before bottling. Erythritol is a non-fermentable sugar alcohol.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Follow me so you can get more hard cider recipes and tips as well as ideas for experiencing hard cider. Also, if you want to learn more about making hard cider, get my book. It covers all things hard cider as well as food and cider pairings.

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