Real Fermenting: Cider Four Ways

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cider Four Ways

This is an experiment in bottle flavoring. I am making a 1 gallon batch of plain hard apple cider. Following the Strong Waters recipe for hard apple cider, I put 1 gallon of apple juice (organic, pasteurized, no need to heat it to sterilize) into my primary fermenter. To that juice, I added 1tsp yeast nutrient, 1/2tsp pectin enzyme and 3/4 cup sugar. Stir the juice and add a packet of Premier Cuvee. Airlock your fermenter and leave that for about a week until it has finished fermenting. Then we get to the interesting part of this experiment. Making Plain Cider, Chai-der, Ginger Cider and Earl Grey Cider in the bottle.

Oh no! - Bottle Imperfection

Plain Cider

This is the simple hard apple cider. Just add one teaspoon of sugar per 750ml to the bottle for carbonation. After bottling the plain cider, I found that the bottle had a flaw in it - apparently a thin metal rod and a tiny spring found their way into the glass that formed this bottle. As I don't want to let this bottle get pressurized, I had to just put it right into the fridge and drink it the next day. I have contacted my (non)-local  homebrew store, which is located about 300 miles from my house about getting a replacement. I guess I should have inspected them before leaving the store.


Masala tea (commonly known as chai tea, here in the US) is warmly spiced tea made with milk. This flavor combination uses some of the most common spices from that drink. It doesn't use milk. For one 750ml bottle, I used the following spices. I also added one teaspoon of sugar for carbonation.

5 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cardamom pods
1 whole clove

I didn't crush the spices, because I didn't want to have fragments in every glassful.

The spices for Chai-der
Chai-der is a complete experiment. I am really excited to try it in a week or so. I'll let you know how it turns out. [Warning: It turned out mouth-numbingly clove-y! Read here]

Ginger Cider

I have made ginger cider before, but this is my first time using my new Breville juicer. Using ginger juice means I can get the flavor in quickly, without risking ginger chunks getting into glasses. When I made it before, I put grated ginger into the primary fermenter, before filtering it out at bottling. Not conducive to multiple flavors.

What was left of the ginger after juicing. Yikes!
I added one tablespoon of fresh ginger juice to 750ml of cider, along with the sugar (1tsp) for carbonation.

As a side note, I could have added ginger to the chai-der as well, but I chose not to in an effort to maximally differentiate the ciders. Ginger is a common spice in masala chai.

Earl Grey Cider

The final cider flavor was inspired by a conversation with homebrewer Joe Lawler. He suggested a bergamot flavored cider. The only thing I have with bergamot in is Earl Grey tea. I made an extremely strong brew of Earl Grey and added it to the bottle. I boiled 1/3 cup water and then added three teaspoons of really nice loose Earl Grey (a gift from Micah Smith) and turned the heat off. I allowed this tea to steep for 10 minutes before putting it into the cider bottle. I also added the teaspoon of sugar for carbonation.

1/3 cup boiled water
3 tsp loose Earl Grey (or 2-3 Earl Grey teabags)

Very tasty tea!
I am interested to see how this cider works out. I think the bergamot flavor will go nicely with the cider, but maybe the astringency of the strong black tea will also help. I wonder whether adding some liquid to the bottle which is not cider will affect the finished product in an identifiable way. This is the nature of an experiment like this - I have many questions, which will be (partially) resolved by tasting cider. What could be better?

[Important Update]


  1. Sounds so delicious! I wish I could be a taste tester for you!

    1. There's pretty much always something to taste.

  2. Do you have any idea how much sugar is left in the final product?

    1. Hi Joe. Frankly, no I don't. I didn't use my hydrometer in this batch. Next time I make some cider I'll be sure to measure that, which should give us an idea of how much sugar is left.

      It was by my reckoning around 6% alcohol. But that's using the rule of tongue (i.e. taste) to measure. Are you concerned about the flavor of the sugar left? Or how many calories you would be getting per bottle? Or something else entirely?

  3. Hi Peter, thanks for replying.

    I am not concerned about the taste of the sugar (I am sure the cider tastes as it should), or about the calories per se, but I am concerned about the negative health effects of sucrose, and of fructose in particular.

    I actually have the same question regarding Kombucha tea. Do you have any idea how much sugar is left in the final product?