Thursday, August 14, 2014

Homemade Apple and Cranberry Hard Cider

When I returned to Dublin from New York, I needed something to keep me busy between blogging and writing sessions. Luckily, I knew just the thing to help keep me awake during my jetlag recovery.

A new experimental cider!

Off I went to the store, and was shocked to see that my usual brand of 85-cent-per-liter apple juice was sold out! I had to step up to the next-tier (but still not name brand) juice at a full Euro per liter! That's an eighteen percent increase in raw materials cost!

To help cut the gouging of the store prices, I grabbed a cheap jug of cranberry juice drink (otherwise known as drank) to flesh out this extravagant beverage. Until I can get a rapper to endorse my brand and spray cider on exploited women (or men, wouldn't a woman rapper in a hooded sweatshirt splashing sticky Champagne on Speedo-clad men be nice payback!?), I simply can't afford the Euro-per-liter Pimp Juice.

2 Liters Apple Juice, 1.5 Liters Cranberry Juice Drink
Extravagant Juices

I was so upset about the high cost of materials, I didn't even measure the sugar, tea, sultanas, and yeast nutrient. I've made so many little batches of cider (and cider-like beverages) that I could mix this up in my sleep.

The resulting mix is ruby red and off to a good fermenting start. I was a bit worried, smiles aside, because the cranberry was not 100% juice. New brewers, be mindful of ingredients including the word "drink." These can be cut with other juices, refined sugars, and preservatives. 

The ingredients list on this particular jug only listed juice, sugar, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and some artificial colors. As long as there isn't too much acid concentration, the yeast should work fine. I would have stayed away had I seen anything in the line of sulphites or other stronger preservatives which, by definition, inhibit microbial (i.e. yeast) activity.

Apple and Cranberry Cider fermenting in a water jug
Pimp Juice Jug
I was also finally able to try my strange apple and prune juice drink. After a month, it still hadn't fully cleared, but I attributed that to the large quantity of solids and pulp in the prune juice. This stuff will probably take months to clear out... if I let it.

Apple and Prune Juice Hard Cider
Apple and Prune Juice Hard Cider

 ...After all, the pulp and solids in prune juice are the fiber that any healthy adult (or yeast cell) needs to stay regular, right? Any homebrewer worth his or her yeast isn't bothered by sediment. I think of it like the lumps in homemade mashed potatoes. Unavoidable in a hand-made, finely-crafted product.

The taste was actually very nice. I can taste the plums and the apples. Because it's had a full month to mellow out, it is quite smooth. Some residual sugars (and probably those fruit solids) give it a nice body. As strange as prune juice sounds as an ingredient, I would absolutely make this again.

...And no, nine-year-olds out there, no digestive irregularities to report, one way or the other.

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