Crab Apples as you know are usually used as a bittering or tartness agent in ciders. Many recipes call for a small amount of them in combination with other apples to balance the flavor. If I was using a mac, courtland or spencer, I’d be using a small amount of crab apple to balance the huge amounts of sugar these apples bring to the table.
Quite by surprise I received a 4 gallon batch of Crab Apples and since my Maple Hard Cyder isn’t being made for another month, I had to use them up or suffer the loss through rot:
4 Gal Crab Apples
10 Lb Sugar
Wyeast 4134 D47 Yeast (see note)
So after washing the apples 3 x to make sure there wasn’t any dirt, grass, leaves, hair or other nasty product, we ran them through the Juice Tiger ™. I got to about 4 apples before the Juice Tiger ™ jammed. It appears it’s not so fond of stems, seeds or skins when producing juice. So we went a different direction. My Mother-n-law had given us a meat processor a while back:
When I put the crab apples into it, they relented and became a pulped mass. Now I didn’t really have anyway of crushing the pulp so we decided to follow an English format of cooking the apples and then drawing off the juice from this process. So we brought the mix to 150 and then let it hold there for 10 min to insure the bacteria and wild yeast were killed. Then we strained the liquid out of the mix:
We did this three times to get enough liquid and on the third “sparge” we introduced 10 lbs of sugar and brought it back up to 140 degrees to incorporate the sugar in as a syrup.
Notice the nice red/brown color brought through initially. As we continued to sparge, the brown color overtook the mix and the temperature ranged about 150 degrees. We’re currently waiting for the mix to cool enough to pitch the yeast.
Notes on the yeast: The store I got it from gave it to me for free. Why? Because the date was feb 2011/ We’ll try pitching it tomorrow and see what happens. If it doesn’t take, then I’ve got my favorite old standby D47 waiting.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think anyone has ever made a strictly crab apple cider? Like so many brewing projects there’s bound to be someone who only had access to these particular sugar sources and attempted to make the best of it. We’re experimenting here and that’s part of learning the brewing process and how it affects different sugars and yeast opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to try things that are not specifically “Medieval Period” related. If you try things outside of the box, you sometimes gain a better understanding of what the in rules require so that you can better attain your end goals.