I first published this in early 2013, and it's been one of my most popular recipes. Since we're moving into fall when cool weather and the holidays make us think of apples and cider, I'm republishing for my newer readers. Enjoy!
If you like hard cider or mead, here's a recipe that will give you a touch of both! If you're new to making your wine or hard cider at home, this recipe is perfect for a beginner. All it requires is a little time and patience -- a couple hours one evening will be more than enough to get it started. In three to four weeks, you'll be enjoying the results.
Cysers are a member of the mead family -- an ancient variety of wine made with honey. There are many varieties of meads: metheglin (essentially mead with spices) melomel, (fruit wine made with honey), and cyser, to name a very few. Cysers fit in with the melomels and are typically apple-based.
Apple Pie Cyser is a recipe I've formulated that borrows from melomels and metheglins and combines their elements into a very tasty drink for a cool evening. Once fermented, you can bottle as a wine, or prime for a secondary fermentation to lightly carbonate the cyser. The final product is medium-sweet (sweeter than semi-dry, but doesn't lose the slightly bitter edge that a fully sweet wine would have). It will be very drinkable at room temperature or chilled - your choice.
What You'll Need: Ingredients
- 3 - gallons apple juice (use only 100%, pasteurized juice with no preservative other than Vitamin C-ascorbic acid)
- 2-1/2 - pounds honey (use 2 pounds for primary fermentation and reserve the 1/2 pound for backsweetening/priming)
- 2 - pounds dark brown sugar
- 1 - Tablespoon McCormick Apple Pie Spice (or, make your own)
- 3 - cinnamon sticks
- 2 - cans apple juice concentrate
- 1 - 5 gram package Lalvin 71B-1122 Wine Yeast
What You'll Need: Equipment
- 4+ gallon carboy OR fermentation bucket OR 3 1-gallon glass jugs
- 5-gallon food-grade pail for first rack and/or bottling
- food-grade tubing for siphoning
- fermentation lock(s) and rubber stoppers (for carboy) or rubber stoppers (for jugs/pails)
- 3 quart sauce pan (for heating juice to simmer spices and dissolve sugars
- You may also need: a large whisk for aerating the mix (if using a bucket), wooden spoon for stirring whilst simmering spices and dissolving sugars.
For bottling: I purchased a case of 16-ounce "growler" bottles. They're very durable and can be used many times over, so they're environmentally responsible, too. To buy them from amazon.com, please click here. You can also use old wine bottles or jugs.
How to Make the Cyser
- Make sure you have sanitized your containers! You don't want wild yeast or bacteria getting in to your mix and ruining your mix. You can do this by: washing them in a dishwasher at high-temp, heated dry, and NO SOAP or soaking them in a light bleach solution (2 Tbs per gallon of water) for 20 minutes and then rinsing well with cold water. This is essential to getting good results.
- Put the first half of the juice in your primary fermentation vessel:
If using 3 glass jugs: fill each jug 1/2 full with juice
If using a fermentation pail or carboy: fill with 2 gallons of juice
- Activate your yeast unless you're using pitchable yeast (like from Wyeast). Put about 1/4 cup of warm water in a bowl, and stir in the yeast. Within 15 minutes, it will be all bubbly... which means it's been activated.
- Start 1 quart of juice warming on the stove. Stir in the spices and add the cinnamon sticks. All it to simmer but do not boil! This will cause the pectins in the juice to react and it will make the cyser taste bad.
- Whilst the juice is warming and simmering, aerate the juice in the jugs/carboy/pail. For the jugs, put your hand over the top and shake the heck out of it; for the larger vessels, either shake or whisk, depending on your ability to do this. The important thing is to get it bubbly, which shows you've stirred air through the juice. This is important for later, because the yeast will need it to consume the sugars and make alcohol.
- Once the juice reaches simmering temperature, take it off the heat and stir in the honey and sugar. Once it is dissolved, add to the juice in your primary vessel. If you're using the 3-jug method, divide evenly between the three.
- Mix the sugar/spice mix into the juice well.
- Add the activated yeast. Again, if you're using the 3-jug method, divide the mixture evenly between the three.
- Top off your container(s) with the remainder of the juice.
- Don't forget to get the cinnamon sticks into the mix!
At this point, you're ready to go. Install the fermentation locks on the vessels, and put everything a fairly cool place where the temperature doesn't vary much. My kitchen stays about 68 degrees at all times unless we have the oven going; this is a good temperature range for this particular yeast.
Now, you wait. Within 24 hours, you should have some lively bubbling going on as the mix starts fermenting. Let it bubble away. In 2 to 3 weeks, the yeast will have fermented itself out; when the bubbling in your fermentation lock is at less than 1 bubble per minute, you're ready for the next step: racking/bottling.
- Pour the two cans of apple juice concentrate into your secondary container.
- Dissolve the remaining 1/2 pound of honey in 2 cups of warm water, and then stir into the apple juice concentrate
- Siphon the cyser from the primary into the secondary, leaving the sediment behind.
At this point, you have two options:
- Let the cyser clarify - leave it in the secondary for a week or so and the remaining sediment will settle to the bottom. Then, bottle.
- Bottle the cyser. It might be a little cloudy, but this is not a problem - I prefer the taste, as there will be little "zips" of spice when you drink. Once bottled, let set for another 1-2 weeks, and the cyser is ready to drink.
It's good cold, or at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Skill Level: Easy
- Time to Make: About 4 weeks total
- Quantity: 3 gallons
- Serves: Enjoyed in moderation, many happy people ;-)
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