Tupelo honey comes from the tupelo trees that grow along the Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi border. It’s America’s most expensive honey. Light in color with a glucose to sucrose ratio that makes it almost impossible to crystallize. It has a sweet floral aroma. I use a cup (8 ounces or 237ml) mixed with the same amount of warm water. This should increase your specific gravity by around 20 points. I use culinary and dessert apples like Granny Smith, Red Delicious, and Fuji but other similar apples will work or even store bought juice, which will most likely be made from similar apples. I find this hard cider most enjoyable when it’s sparkling so I target 3.25-3.5 volumes CO2.
I am recommending you use 20 pounds of total apples and plan to clarify the juice, which I am finding increases the fruity esters. Using 20 pounds will ensure you have a little extra as you will rack off the juice after letting it settle and clarify with the pectic enzyme. Note, you can ferment the residual juice with the pectin. I often let them ferment with natural/wild yeast. However, pectin broken down is how methanol is made so you want to balance your desire to use every drop of juice with making cider that might have higher than normal level of methanol, which is toxic to humans. For the regular juice, you should have a relatively clear juice that should aid in the creation of fruitier esters. You don’t want crystal clear juice like the filtered kind in the store but clarified juice will have less suspended solids and lower nutrients.
I used Cider House Select as my yeast but another good choice would be English Cider Yeast (WLP775) from White Labs. Both should give you a dry and fruity hard cider. As I mentioned, I target a sparkling cider at around 3.25-3.5 volumes CO2. The end result is a dry crisp fruity cider with floral on the nose and the finish. It packs a little more punch with the added sugar from the honey but it makes a great cider for fish, pasta, and seafood.
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 3.5 volumes, you can add 40 grams of priming sugar per gallon (10.5 grams per liter). This should give you the additional volumes CO2 that you would need to reach 3.5. This assumes you didn’t degas the hard cider, which means you should have around 0.85 volumes 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.
- 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.
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.