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Old 09-28-2012, 06:27 PM   #1
aja1983
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Default Apple choice

I am wondering if any one has experience with blending any combination of gala, fiji, golden delicious, pink ladies, macs, honey crisps or granny smiths for hard cider. I know most are not ideal but it is all I can get my hands on. Thanks

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Old 09-28-2012, 07:25 PM   #2
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I've been researching this topic for about two weeks already on this forum. The general consensus has been that granny smiths are a good base (50-60%), pink ladies give a good sweet character, and avoid too many golden delicious (I have about 10% collected in my 5 frozen bushels while I wait for the temps here to cool down for fermentation. From what I have read, they're really only sweet and don't offer any body or tannin flavors, but I'm guessing they'll be an alright filler). As for fiji and gala, those two are my favorite eating apples, but I haven't found anything about them for cider. My apple bill is about 50% Red Delicious, 40% Winesap, and 10% Golden Delicious. I was considering adding maybe half a bushel of pears as well?

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Old 09-29-2012, 02:16 AM   #3
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While not traditional cider varieties you can definitely make a good cider with such a wide range of common apples. When it comes to blending apples there are two main schools of thought:

Big Blend - Use 4-30 apples varieties to create a full bodied cider.
Varietal - Add a significant portion of a single apple, then use smaller amounts of only a few select varieties to emphasize the qualities of the original apple.

Until your palate has become more developed in identifying positive (and negative) cider characteristics just from eating raw fruit or through experience I suggest more of a big blend approach since there is a much lower chance of going way off base.

Here's a rough sketch of what I would do. All numbers approximate.

Gala & Fuji - Sweet, No experience fermenting them, but I see potential as base apples. 40%
Golden Delicious - Sweet, Practically no body, I would minimize their %.
Pink lady - Base apple with some aromatic properties. 20%
McIntosh - Sweet. Aromatic. 10-20%
HoneyCrisp - See GD, but slightly more body imo.
Granny Smith - Sharp, maybe 30% for a typical cider, ad more if you like it tart & crisp.

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Old 09-29-2012, 06:26 AM   #4
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I've had good results with Pink Lady, Stayman, and Granny Smith mixes.
As sub for the Stayman, from that list it would probably be a tossup between Gala or HoneyCrisp ,.
The same type of apples can vary in sugar and aroma between two orchards depending on when they are picked.
The best thing you can do is get samples of all these apples, cut them into slices and see how they mix together.
You may be somewhat limited by time of season. around here Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Fuji arent being picked yet, HoneyCrisp are mostly gone and Gala not around much longer.

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Old 09-29-2012, 08:37 AM   #5
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i like max 10% granny smiths. more than that and it gets really tart. i use cox orange pippin or some related varieties (dutch variety elstar which has cox and golden delicious parentage) as a base and don't find i need much else other than tannins, which i get from a very small amount of crabapples

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Old 09-29-2012, 05:36 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. Good to know I can make a decent cider from these apples. I know this is a little off topic but what yeast do you guys get the best results with. I've used 1116, wyeast cider, and California ale.

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Old 09-29-2012, 06:19 PM   #7
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Brupaks Ale, Wy3056, Notty, S04, US05, WLP041, Wy3068 and Wy3333 and are my go-to yeasts.

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Old 09-30-2012, 01:10 AM   #8
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My best blend was 1/3 mac, 1/3 northern sky (my favorate eating apple by far, not common though), and 1/3 red/yellow delicious.
I also had a horrible batch of local "wild" apples. It involved a lot of small crabs (Whitney to be exact) that bogged the flavor down. A strait batch of Mac will result in a slightly sour batch.
I have decided that English Cider yeast (White Labs) is going to be my yeast of choice. If you want to have fun, Belguim Ale yeasts produce some interesting flavors.

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