It isn’t very common to find a cider that is made from just one type of apple. These ciders do exist, they are called “single varietal” ciders. While there are some great single varietal ciders out there, most people find they can make a much more interesting cider if they mix a few different types of apples.
A question we often get is what is the right ratio of different apples to use?
In the prairies we are typically talking about a blend between sweeter apples (low acid) and tart apples/crabapples (high acid). There is a huge range of apples out there, so here are some basic tips to consider.
- The cider will likely taste more sour after fermentation than before. This is because the yeast have consumed the sugar. Sweetness helps balance acid, so the tartness will be more noticeable after the sugar is fermented away.
- I highly recommend mixing in some crabapples if you have them. Although they are usually quite high in acid, they often have more flavour, tannins, and aromatic compounds that will add some interesting flavour to the cider.
- Try to think about how much acid might be in the juices you are working with. If it tastes cloyingly sweet, then it probably has less acid. Refreshing juice is probably somewhere in the mid range. If it is tart or sour, then you are probably dealing with a higher acid apple.
- If you are working with prairie apples, especially crabapples it is easier to end up with too much acid than not enough. I suggest blending towards the sweet end of things the first time.
- Do you plan to drink the cider totally dry? Then I suggest keeping the proportion of sour apples lower.
- If you like your cider a bit sweeter, then you can be a bit more generous with the sour apples because the final sweetness will help balance out the tart flavour.
- You can ferment the different apple juices separately if you have space. This way you can taste the individual ciders when they are done and blend them to your tastes.
- Try different combinations! Take notes and keep records. Over time you will learn which combinations make a cider that you enjoy.
There are some other more technical approaches to blending. If you want to get into them I recommended checking out some of the books and websites on our resources page.
If you have any tips that you use, or blends that work well for you we’d love to hear about it!