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Blending Cider

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:12 pm
by Greyt.Chase
If cider is all about blending of the four different types of cider apples, (bittersharps, bittersweets, sharps, sweets) what are some good blends to make?

Or is that the trick with cider? The right mix of those four styles? What are your top 5 cider apples?

Re: Blending Cider

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:06 am
by mmi
there is a free guide in the psu c fruit growers PDF under the cider chapter

Re: Blending Cider

Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:30 am
by dmtaylor
Blending is an art and I'm sure I will never quite figure out the exact right combination of the different types of apples. However, through experimentation in separately pressing about 30 different kinds of apples, I have been able to determine quantitatively which apples have: 1) the most juice per pound, 2) the most sugar per pound, and 3) the least cost per pound. Combining these three factors, I have found that the following five apples are an EXCELLENT value per pound, in this order:

1) Random crab apples. Not only do these have maximum astringency and tartness that are good to have in a blend, but I've found that often the juice and sugar content are also way up there, AND you can usually find them for free, just about anywhere. Always worth picking some of these and throwing into your blend.

2) Washington Strawberry. If you can find it (I got mine from Maple Valley), this is a delicious apple to eat with a unique strawberry flavor, and it also happens to provide a great quantity of an immensely sweet juice.

3) Honeycrisp. Yes... good old Honeycrisp is a great eater AND is extremely juicy and plenty sweet. You really will have a hard time getting more juice out of any other apple. It can be expensive, but the high quantity of juice it gives actually makes this one a worthy contender for a great cider apple.

4) Scarlet Surprise. Provides a high quantity of very tart yet reasonably sweet PINK juice! Kind of interesting to add a little color and tartness to a blend, or perhaps to try fermenting all by itself!

5) Golden Noble. Somewhat of a bland apple to eat, but very juicy and one of the cheapest apples I was able to find. It has some tartness but I'd say it's quite balanced between tartness and sweetness.

Overall I would recommend just to blend at least 3 or 4 different varieties of sweet and tart apples to ensure complexity and depth of flavor, and also be sure to use a small percentage (perhaps 2-3%) of bitter crabapples as well for some astringent smack. I have made great ciders of all sorts of apples but I find that some of the best ones are just random blends of really just any different apples that you can find. I figure if I can get them cheap and juicy, so much the better -- more juice for the buck. Happy cider making!

Re: Blending Cider

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:25 am
by Greyt.Chase
Thanks for the tips!

Re: Blending Cider

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:13 pm
by Skipley
There are some simple varietals that are excellent. Spitzenburg, Staymen, Jonathan to name a few. Aromatics is also important.

Re: Blending Cider

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:26 pm
by shelah
Claude Joliceur gets quite technical on this subject in his New Cider Maker's Handbook ( ... e+joliceur). He talks about percentages of different types of apples for different styles of cider, and what apples to use for what part of the blend (e.g., sweet, bittersweet, sharp, etc). If you are prepared to get analytical and a bit scientific, he goes into exhaustive detail about how to measure the sugar and acidity contents of your apples and discusses what ranges make a pleasing cider.

I have seen other cider books that are more shoot-from-the-hip-and-hope-for-the-best but Joliceur talks about how to minimize the variables so your more likely to come out with a well-balanced cider. He's also very left-brained about it so if you'd rather do it by feel, he's not for you. But if you're willing to get into measurements, his book will take you where you want to go.