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Adding Blackberries (or other fruit) to cider?

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Jack09

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I know this question has been asked before but I was wondering if anyone can share their own experience of adding fruit/berries to cider?

After my first successful cider last year i am planning on doing the same again but will also do a 3 gallon batch of apple and blackberry.

I was going to juice the berries with the apple and start it from there. I wasn't going to boil them but am worried how tart they are and so was intending on backsweetening with splenda when I come to bottle. I have read people adding berries to secondary vessel as I helps keep the flavour.

I wanted to know what people have done and what yeast they have used?

Also does anyone know roughly how many blackberries produce 1 litre of juice?

Thanks in advance!!
 

Pappers_

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Never done a blackberry cider, that sounds delicious. When I add other fruit, I tend to add it as a backsweetener. In other words, let the apple juice ferment out completely, rack, cold crash, knock out the yeast, then add pomegranate juice or whatever fruit addition I'm adding, and keg.
 

smarch0

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I did a blackberry cider not to long ago. I probably would have used juice, but could not find any and did not have the equipment to make any. What I ended up doing was coarsely blending ~1KG of fresh blackberries, washed, with 1 crushed campden tablet to sterilize. I then dumped that into a sterilized empty (secondary) carboy for ~24 hours to let the sulphite react out. Then racked the cider, which was done its primary fermentation, on top of that. I also added some elderberries, but went a little to heavy on that and it ended up way to tart. Ripe blackberries should not add too much tartness, but elderberries sure do!

I am no expert, but have done a few batches now. Take the comments with a grain of salt, but I believe they are true. Here are some of the options for adding fruit flavor.

1. Use juice in primary - adds some flavor, but keeps it dry.
2. Add fruit in secondary - Adds flavor, some body, slight bump in aroma over using juice in primary
3. Back sweeten using juice - Depending on how much used, will add the most natural flavor, I assume lots of body (I have not done this myself yet).
4. Use a good quality extract from your LHBS - Can add lots of flavor without affecting body too much.

Or you could use any combination there in. I would not recommend using splenda, it makes a strange flavor. I assume you don't keg, or it would be easy enough to backsweeten. If you don't want to heat sterilize, maybe consider lactose? Just be sure to give it a few days between adding and bottling as a small percentage is fermentable.
 

Drewed

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Here is my take on it:

1. Use juice in primary - adds flavor, but more of a 'wine' type of flavor. Some fruit is needed here.
2. Add fruit in secondary - Adds flavor, but should not ferment, or not fully. More of what the fruit normally tastes like. Needed to bolster the fruit in the primary, add complexity to primary fruit.
3. Back sweeten using juice - Tends to taste like juice. Good or bad, you are not going to hide anything here
4. Use a good quality extract from your LHBS - Can add lots of flavor without affecting body too much, tends to taste like extract. Very easy to go overboard!!!
 

csurowiec

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Earlier this summer I made a blueberry cider and was quite pleased with the results. The blueberries were my own homegrown that I froze. When the primary fermentation was about 75% complete I thawed the berries, ground them to mush in the blender and added them right into the primary fermenter at the rate of 2lbs per gallon of apple juice. No campden and no pasteurizing the berries, just freezing. In my experience, if you add fruit during active fermentation then any bad bugs that survived the freezer can't get a foothold in your fermenter. I ground them to maximize access to the berry sugars for the yeast and to get a lot of flavor and color extraction. The finished cider has a beautiful purple color and tastes strongly of blueberries. It sat for about 2 weeks with the blueberries before cold crash and bottling. It fermented quite dry and I kept it that way. No back sweetening for me, I'm not a fan of sweet beverages.
 
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Jack09

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Thanks for replies. I will probably do something similar. I froze the berries immediately after I picked and washed them so they are ready for when I need them. Im making a 5l batch and was aiming for 20-25% blackberry juice.
I'm thinking of adding then in primary before fermentation is completed then maybe rack it to another vessel to clear before bottling.

I've never cold crashed cider so will look into that before I begin.
Cheers
 
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Jack09

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Hello again.

Just an update on my blackberry cider. I crushed some blackberries into a sterile demi John and racked off the cider into that. ( cider was reading 1002) thought I would rack it as sugar was getting low.

Question is. Do I need to add yeast/yeast nutrient to kick start the fermentation or just leave it and see? I'm intending on racking it for a 3rd time to help clear it as it wasn't just juice I added but crushed berries?

Ps I also added a tsp of pectolase
 

Maylar

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Leave it be, there's still yeast in there. When I did a berry cider I let the berries sit in secondary for about 2 weeks and it worked well.
 
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Jack09

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Ok. So, I've let the berries sit in there for about a week. I tested it today and it's reading 1002.

It's gone like this

18 Oct - Apples started fermenting 1042
26 Oct - 1002
27 Oct - added crushed blackberries
2 Nov - 1002

I suppose I should ignore the fact I added blackberries as I thought it would increase sugar and raise the reading. Maybe just treat it like a normal cider regarding the readings?

I'm intending on racking it around 1000 or slightly below.

Anyone advise any different?

Thanks
 

madscientist451

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I'd just let it sit there until its done fermenting, I'm assuming you're getting some fermentation action?
Note that after you rack off the cider, there's still lots of flavor left in those berries. If your original batch was 3 gallons you can try putting another gallon or maybe a 1/2 gallon of cider/juice on to them. Picking the berries takes time and effort, might as well get everything out of them that you can. When you rack off the second time you can try to squeeze all the remaining liquid out of the fruit. You'll then have to let it settle and rack it off again.
 
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Jack09

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I'd just let it sit there until its done fermenting, I'm assuming you're getting some fermentation action?
Note that after you rack off the cider, there's still lots of flavor left in those berries. If your original batch was 3 gallons you can try putting another gallon or maybe a 1/2 gallon of cider/juice on to them. Picking the berries takes time and effort, might as well get everything out of them that you can. When you rack off the second time you can try to squeeze all the remaining liquid out of the fruit. You'll then have to let it settle and rack it off again.
Ok great thanks for the advice. Yes there is a lot of fruit floating at top of liquid like a sort of foam.

Will rack it tomorrow and squeeze as much flavour out. It's still fermenting. I'm intending on charging bottles with 1/2 tsp of sugar. Last year I bottled a little earlier so there was still a little sugar left. Will wait longer this year.

Cheers
 

globell

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I rack over onto whole berries when most fermentation is done. Berries are hard enough to rack out and I don't crush them. Stir or wiggle carboy daily and ensure it's fairly full. Leave two weeks. Rack. Rack again until there's no berry bits. trust me you want those gone.
 
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