I used Earligold apples for this hard cider. Because the apricots are ripe before the apples, I processed them earlier and froze the juice. In my book, The Art & Science of Cider, I included the apricot juice in the primary fermentation process. This version of Sunrise Cider I change that up slightly and I am including the juice as part of a secondary fermentation process. Normally, I find adding adjuncts in the secondary can help retain more color and flavor. However, this can extend the time it takes to complete the fermentation and maturation process. The apricots add a touch of color to the cider and provide some fruity notes to it.
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 to add, 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 if I can. 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. The same is true for carbonation. If you want to bottle condition this cider to 2.75 volumes, you can add 29 grams of priming sugar per gallon (7.7 grams per liter). This should give you the additional volumes CO2 that you would need to reach 2.75. 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.
- Freeze Concentration: Since the apricot juice is frozen (if you pressed it yourself), you could concentrate it. This will increase the sugar (expect a more aggressive secondary) as well as the color and fruit aromas.
- Yeast Alternatives: Consider using a different yeast. I have been exploring torulaspora delbrueckii, which is a non-saccharomyces genus of yeast. Saccharomyces is the most common yeast genus used for wine and beer. Within this genus, there are a vast number of species, which is how you have yeast that create esters, phenols, or combinations of these sensory components. Torulaspora delbrueckii is a high ester producing yeast, meaning expect more fruity aromas.
- 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.
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