Ciders are a quick and easy fermentation that anyone can do. Adding flavors to your cider or beer is a great way to customize your drink. Depending on the season or your favorite flavors. How you add that flavor is always up for debate.
Fruit additions versus extracts have been a long-heated debate in homebrewing. One party says you can’t get the flavor needed without extracts. While the other says there’s nothing like using the real thing. We decided to do a quick experiment and make a simple cider recipe that we can split and dose one with real blueberries and the other with the blueberry extract.
If you want to try another simple beer recipe check our How to brew Vanilla Cream Ale.
Brewing a Cider
For this recipe, we are using store-bought apple juice as the base. Make sure there are no preservatives in your juice that will inhibit yeast growth. We’re making a 2-gallon batch that we will ferment in one vessel and then split before packaging.
Put the juice in and add some yeast nutrients. And lastly, add the yeast. Whatever clean fermenting yeast you have on hand is fine. then just shake it up. Toss an airlock on and set it in a coll dark space for 1 week to ferment at 69 F.
After 1-week fermentation activity has slowed down. Upon tasting a sample the cider has nice dryness with a slight bit of sweetness at the end. Now we are going to split the ciders up since they will be getting different forms of flavoring.
Adding the flavors
In order to keep the ciders as identical as possible, we are going to stabilize them. That way when we add fruit into half of this batch the sugars from the fruit won’t kick up fermentation again. Instead, we will be getting the full fruit flavor and sweetness. We then let them sit in a dark spot for one day to allow those stabilizers’ powers to do their magic.
One day later it’s time to package up the cider with our flavor additions. You can use any fruit or seasoning you think would taste great in a cider. We will be kegging the 2 gallons into separate kegs. Each with its respective flavorings. In one well be adding blueberry extract and in the other frozen blueberries.
If you don’t have a keg we would suggest adding these additions into your secondary fermenter for a few days and then bottling. For the first keg, we add 2 ml of the blueberry extract. The biggest pitfall with extract is that you can easily overdo it and ruin your whole batch. Start with small amounts. you can always add more. In the second keg, we add the frozen fruit. We add the fruit to a sanitized muslin bag and add that to the keg. With both flavor additions in, we transfer the cider. Once they’re in we close them up.
The extract version is a beautiful golden yellow. The fruity version took on a deep purple color from the blueberries. They both have a distinctive blueberry aroma. The extract gives a much sharper flavor. It’s very crisp and the blueberry flavor is very prominent but fades away very quickly. Fruity one is a much smoother and rounded flavor. We think with extract you can achieve any flavor you want. But flavors tend to be more artificial. With fruit, you get a natural flavor and they also add color. Cheers.