How much cherry juice for apple-cherry cider.

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Apr 19, 2017
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Snowy Mountains, Australia
Sadly the "big wet" and floods that we have experienced here in Oz over the past six months or so has caused my big old cherry tree to kark it from root rot. No sign of life this spring so endless cherries of the past are no more.

Typically, I had added about 10% frozen cherries by weight to secondary fermentation (starting at about 1.020), and this worked well.

So, I want to get a handle on how I can make an Apple-Cherry Cider using "store bought" juice before harvesting my apples (and hopefully jag some cherries) in about six months time. I have found a supposedly pure cherry juice "nothing artificial" (only lists carbohydrate 15g, sugars 11g, sodium 7mg per100ml) which is probably SG 1.040 or so.

I also have fresh apple juice coming (6L Pink Lady, 4L Royal Gala, 2L Granny Smith). My dilemma is how much of the cherry juice to add to secondary once primary fermentation is over. Gut feel says go with 10%, but I don't really know how the juice relates to "real" cherries. The frozen cherries were quite strong with pulpy flesh and thick juice. The store-bought juice is O.K. but quite thin in comparison.

Any comments or advice from someone who has made an apple-cherry (or any other fruit) cider are more than welcome.
I've found fermented cherry juice to be almost tasteless, all I get is a slight hint of flavor and aroma. Sometimes I'll put a shot of cherry juice in a glass and then add the cider, or 50/50 cider and light lager. This "blending in the glass" method works better for me than the unpredictability of getting flavor out of fermenting fruit or juice. But back to your question, if 10% by weight worked for you in the past, I'd start there with the juice and see how you like it. Most soft fruit is 90% water so you should be pretty close. Also note that most commercial juices are watered down from the original, otherwise the sugar content and flavor of the product wouldn't be consistent.
When COVID came around, I took all the fruit out of the freezer and used the freezer for meat and veggies. I put the thawed cherries in glass jars with Vodka, let it soak for months (still have some) and use the tincture as flavoring for cider and mead. It works OK, but does boost the ABV
Thanks for that. I hadn't considered that fermenting the cherry juice might result in some loss of flavour and "character". I will look at using the cherry to "back sweeten" at the very end and so retain much of its sugar. Perhaps something like ferment the apple down to 1.004, add the cherry to 1.010, bottle and pasteurise at say, 1.006... or something like that for hopefully a lightly carbonated, touch of sweetness result. I need to do the maths to work out quantities but it does give me some ideas.

I also like the tincture idea. I have some cherry liqueur made from last year's cherries (simply cherries soaked in vodka and brandy) which is quite thick and great with ice cream!!!
Tart ("pie") cherries have a much better flavor. I prefer tart cherry concentrate so that I don't dilute the apple juice too much.
Isn't 10% the recommended amount? IIRC I once read 70% apples 20% pears and 10% cherries.
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I hsve done a 70 / 30 apple juice to tart cherry juice in primary and it came out well. More than that i think the tart cherry would overwhelm the apples.
So I have two 3# cans of vintner’s harvest sweet cherry puree leftover from another project. How much of that do you think would be good to add for a 5 gallon batch of cherry cider so that there is a nice balance of cherry and apple flavor? I’ll actually probably add close to 6 gallons of juice into my fermenter so that after transferring and kegging I still have close to 5 gallons going in the keg.

And at what point in the process? Thinking towards the end of secondary fermentation would be best. Or maybe some in secondary, some at kegging?
For a balance of cherry/apple flavor, I’d strain the purée and add it to the keg along with frozen apple juice concentrate. If you aren’t going to drink the cider real fast, I’d either stabilize or make a smaller batch, because the FAJC and cherry juice will start fermenting.
Hey Chalkyt: don't obsess. Go for the gusto and then recalibrate as needed. If you over do the cherry, just dilute with some straight apple 'til you get it where you want it. I fermented some 100% black raspberry juice last year that turned out so overwhelmingly intense that no-one could drink it. I'm still titrating it down to figure out an acceptable percentage that still gives the black raspberry flavor. Maybe 10-20%. But in this range it is INCREDIBLE. Your cherry will be too!
The original post was about this time last year when we would normally have lots of cherries for eating at Xmas and freezing for use in apple/cherry cider in a few months when the apples were abundant (April/May down here).

I did try adding 15% commercial cherry juice to the cider when fermentation had reduced the SG from 1.050 to 1.020 as was my usual practice with my own frozen cherries. The outcome was a sort of dry taste without much "cherry" and wasn't all that good compared with using "proper" cherries.

Even now, twelve months later it hasn't really improved a lot, although a "control" batch using the same apples is great.

We now have two new cherry trees which squeezed out a few cherries. Hopefully they will start producing for next year.

Thanks for all the replies. Merry Xmas.