We’ve been drinking a lot of cider recently, and decided to make our own. I had a hard time finding any decent cider recipes online (well, beyond “any old juice and any old yeast and it’ll be fine!” type recipes). But got a good recommendation of a recipe that had worked for a co-worker of mine. Though he switched the yeast and used Safeale US-05, so we went with that too.
Since this is our first cider, we decided to repeat our Saison experiement and make five different 1 gallon batches in growlers instead of a single large batch. The plan was to make one gallon of plain juice, one gallon juice with apple juice concentrate, one gallon juice with candi sugar, one gallon juice with honey, and one gallon of water with honey. But our small candi sugar batch was too shallow and wound up a caramelized, crystallized lump. So we went with plain juice, juice with concentrate, juice with honey, and juice with even more honey. We found unfiltered, no-preservative (not even Vitamin C) apple juice at our grocery store. And we used a 1 lb. jar of Tupelo honey from Cross Creek Honey.
One thing that was surprising was the gravity of our apple juice. I’d seen estimates online ranging from 1.035 up to 1.050. But our juice was actually 1.059. So we did some experimentation and found 12 oz. of apple juice concentrate added to a gallon of juice brought the gravity up to around 1.070. We matched that with honey (about 5 Tbsp.) in one batch, and used the rest of our honey (about 10 Tbsp.) in the last batch. We’re particularly interested in comparing the difference between honey and concentrate at the same gravity — how different will they be?
Another question was whether to heat or boil the honey. In typical fashion, I saw opinions online ranging from “you have to boil honey or you’ll get botulism” to “probably good to heat to 170° to pasteurize” all the way to “don’t heat at all and don’t bother filtering out honeycomb and wings — they’ll settle out eventually”. So we sterilized everything but didn’t heat our juice or honey at all. Luckily there were no wings or honeycomb bits to filter out.