Here’s a simple recipe for Toffee Apple Cider/Wine.
It’s especially well suited to the Autumn, particularly during Halloween or Bonfire Night. It can be warmed on the hob with fruit and spices to make a cracking mulled cider too. This cider requires a good degree of ageing, as it’s very raw to start off with and has a high amount of fermentables. It’s extremely strong, so drink it out of a wine glass!
The basic taste is of Turbo Cider, like a dry tart cider, but round off the farmhouse flavour and add a little toffee, caramel and sherry, and you’re somewhere on the way to what it tastes like. It’s not sweet, but has a weird sweetness and fruitiness to it. It’s a real treat and not very expensive to make, but you need some serious patience!
Ingredients v1: Strong/Wine type. Approx 10% - 4.5L 100% Organic Apple Juice. 500g Honey. Water to top. 1 pack yeast of your choice. Popular choices are Montrachet, Champagne, Safale S-04 and Nottingham. 1 14oz tin Pear Halves. 1tsp Yeast Nutrient. 1tsp Malic Acid. 1 Vanilla Pod or Vanilla Extract.
Ingredients 2: More drinkable type. Approx 7.5% - 4L 100% Organic Apple Juice. 250g Honey. Water to top. 1 pack yeast of your choice. Popular choices are Montrachet, Champagne, Safale S-04 and Nottingham. 1 14oz tin Pear Halves. 1tsp Malic Acid. 1tsp Yeast Nutrient. 1 Vanilla Pod or Vanilla Extract.
Mash the pears and pour boiling water over to sanitize. Mix with 3L apple juice and add to sanitized Demi John.
Heat the honey on a medium heat in a normal sized saucepan. Keep it very hot, but don't allow it to boil until it's dark in colour. This will take some time, you will notice a smell of burning marshmellows/candy floss when it's ready. If you can still smell a lot of sweet honey, it's not ready, keep going! It will froth up quite a lot, and for the love of god, do NOT touch it!
When Honey is successfully "burnt," take off the heat and allow to cool. Add 1 carton of Apple Juice, mix, and pour into demi john, mixing the chemicals and yeast at the same time. Ferment at room temperature, it's likely to take 2-3 weeks at least.
After fermentation, rack into a second demi john, top up with water or cider to reduce the headroom. Wrap Vanilla in a small muslin bag, and suspend in the cider using fishing line. Check taste every few days until you're happy - then remove the bag. Alternatively, skip this stage and add vanilla extract when priming.
Bulk age for at least 2 months, anywhere up to a year.
Bottle into pint or wine bottles, I like mine sparkling so add 0.5tsp/pint when bottling, or 1tsp/pint for a very fizzy cider. Keep at room temperature for 2 weeks, then into the cool for a further week before drinking. Serve cool.
Ciders will always get better with age, but once fermentation is completed, you can bottle and expect it to be carbonated and clear in two weeks. It will be very sharp at that point, but that's the bare minimum.