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Old 08-23-2008, 02:22 PM   #1
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Default Cider with Apple/Crab Apple Mix?

Howdy!

We have loads of crab apples this season. Does anyone have a recipe for a hard cider with a dose of crab apples? I expect they'd make for a very tart drink.

The orchards here in New Hampshire/Vermont are just starting to harvest apples. Mmm mmm good!

Thanks!

Brent

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Old 08-23-2008, 02:27 PM   #2
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I make wine with crabapples, and it's my favorite wine. I'm also making a wine (same recipe) with a tart apple/crabapple mix. I like the crabapple version best- it's not really tart from the crabapples, but rather kind of spicy. These are crabapples grown for their fruit, not the ornamental crabapples, of course.

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Old 02-25-2011, 03:52 PM   #3
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Any hints on approximately how much crab apples should be pressed to add tannins to apple cider? Obviously it depends on the crabapple and the apple but 1 bushel crab apple/10 bushels apples? or 1/1? Rough guess?

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Old 02-25-2011, 05:44 PM   #4
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It really does depend on the type of crab. I would say a minimum of 10% for the most astringent varieties. I put in ~21% last year and would love it if I could hit 30% this fall.

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Old 02-25-2011, 08:53 PM   #5
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I really believe it depends on the base cider you start with..... If it's a sweet/bland dessert apple cider like I ended up with this year.... It will take quite a bit more crabs to make it taste right.... If it's a more tart/bitter cider made from old homestead/"Feral" apples that you find in people's yards.... it will take quite a bit less.

I would start by tasting the juice and checking the OG.... Is it pretty tart/bitter with a high OG - likely a good place to start..... Is it sweet/appley/mild with a medium OG (Around 1.05) without any bite? You will need a bunch of Crabs or it will ferment out tasting bland/watery and age out to apple scented dishwater....

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Old 02-26-2011, 08:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truckjohn View Post

I would start by tasting the juice and checking the OG.... Is it pretty tart/bitter with a high OG - likely a good place to start..... Is it sweet/appley/mild with a medium OG (Around 1.05) without any bite? You will need a bunch of Crabs or it will ferment out tasting bland/watery and age out to apple scented dishwater....
I agree, taste and test the crabs. I have a lot of crabs this year, some have high sg and lots of tannin, some low sg and very sour. The high sg ones will be best. They all usually have good acidity. Let them ripen well and develop lots of flavour. I would be careful using too much, you can get some odd flavours using crabs. If they are only a bit bitter you could go 40-50% but if they are very bitter don't go over 20%, just my view.
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:32 PM   #7
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This is all very good advice, the quality of your end product depends more on your juice than anything else. If you don't have true cider apples (which I will probably never see) crabs can make all the difference.

My favorite crab tree bears 2 inch fruit with red flesh which (most impotantly) gives lots of red high gravity juice. It's juice is still enjoyable to some people but most find it has too much bite. I have only found one tree of this variety so far but I'm positive there are more where I found this one. I only found this at the end the season and while I knew it was special, I already had all the crabs I needed so I only picked a few bags. Seeing what it delivered under the press will make me hunt this variety down. I could possibly make a red tinted cider with it.

The thing with crabs they are way more work in every step in the process and they don't give off much juice. And while if the only thing that was available was tiny crabs I would go with the most bitter of the red ones that I could find. If you have options I would find one that yeilds the most juice and work from there.

I have found some crabs/wild that gave lots of juice yet were just incredibly sweet with no bite and huge flavor. Unfortunately I have not found enough for it to amount to more than just an addition. If I had the volume I desired I would attempt to use it as my base juice.

I have run into 10+ varieties of crabs close to me. I used all but the smallest ones in my mix. I think I should get some gallon jugs and see what these can do on there own.

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Old 02-26-2011, 11:03 PM   #8
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Wildman... Ever consider grafting. I've read a lot of the American varieties were "finds" in colonial America (Macintosh comes to mind).

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Old 02-27-2011, 03:00 AM   #9
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Many years ago I planted a lot of seedlings from the crab "John Downie". The trees have a lot of genetic variability but some are really excellent. I wasn't thinking at all of cider when I planted them, just wanted some cheap ornamental apple trees, but I'm very glad I did it now I'm into cider making. They make really healthy vigorous trees, and some have crabs 1.5 inches diameter with very good flavour, I got 12 gallons last week off just 2 trees, really good stuff too, great flavour and high sg. Some are very bitter or sour or tiny, but overall the result was good, just had to wait 13 years.

If you can find roadside wildlings its well worth checking them out, you might find something really good.

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Old 03-02-2011, 07:02 PM   #10
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Sash, I have no land, if I did I would take grafts from several trees around here.

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