Making pear cider is not as hard as it may sound. If you are comfortable brewing beer, you should have no problem making a good cider. As will all things fermented, remember that sanitation is key. I’ve compiled an easy step by step set of instructions for making cider from organic pear fruit juice. Here is a list of what you will need for a 5 gallon batch:
1 – 6.5 gallon carboy/food grade bucket w/ airlock or blowoff hose
1 – Small sanitized funnel
5 – Gallons of organic pear juice. (I’ve used R. W. Knudsen’s Organic Pear Juice)
1 – Package of yeast (I’ve used Wyeast Labs 4184 Sweet Mead Yeast)
1/2 – tsp of Yeast Nutrient
2 1/2 – tsp of Pectic Enzyme (Settles out free floating pectin in pasteurized juice, and will help you clarify improve your cider yield)
1/4 – tsp Potassium Metabisulphite (to kill of any wild yeast if using unpasteurized/ juice)
1/2 tsp of Potassium Sorbate
Step 1: Make sure that your carboy/bucket is sanitized. I usually do a wash and scrub with unscented Oxyclean or PBW, a double water rinse, and then sanitize it with a no rinse acid based sanitizer like Star San. This step is very important because we will not be boiling the juice like we would wort in brewing beer. I activate my yeast packet in the morning and let it sit while I clean my equipment. Take your time! Give your yeast at least a few hours to reproduce before pitching it into your juice.
Step 2: Once your yeast is ready to go, portion out your ingredients and get them ready to go. Make sure that your measuring spoons are clean and sanitized as well. Start pouring your juice into the fermenter. I usually pour off half of the juice, and then add the yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, potassium metabisulphite, and any additional sugar to the remaining juice in it’s container so I can shake them together. This allows the ingredients to dissolve into the juice before adding it to the fermenter. If you are using pasteurized juice (which most of you will likely be using for this recipe), it will be cloudy. The pectic enzyme will help break down the free floating pectin in your juice, which will remove the haze from your finished product. Another thing to note is that the Original Specific Gravity of your juice should be at around 1.050. If it is not, you can add 2.25 oz of brown sugar or 3 oz honey per gallon to raise the OSG by increments of .005. A solid 1.060 OSG will yield between 7 to 9% abv with cider/mead yeast.
Step 3: Once all of your juice has been added to the fermenter, immediately pitch your yeast and aerate your batch. Providing the yeast with plenty of oxygen will help promote healthy yeast cell walls, which in turn will allow your yeast to propagate through your juice quickly. This will reduce fermentation lag time, and decrease your chance of bacterial infection. As you can see from the picture, I inject oxygen using an oxygen regulator and difuser stone.
Step 4: Allow your cider to ferment for 7-10 days. Once fermentation has ceased you can cold crash your batch or move it to a secondary for clarification. I would suggest letting your cider at sit least a week to allow yeast and unfermentables to settle out. Store bought juice is pasteurized, which naturally creates a large amount of pectin in the juice. The pectic enzyme added in Step 2 is critical if you want clear, non-cloudy cider.
Step 5: Dissolve 1/4 tsp of Potassium Metabisulphite and a 1/2 tsp of Potassium Sorbate into your batch. This “shuts off” your yeast activity and allows you to back sweeten your cider (which will be dry and tart) with more juice, brown sugar, or honey to taste. From here you should keg.
We at BIMP have made some outstanding cider using this method. It works great with any organic juice you can buy at the store. Please post any comments or recipe suggestions below. Enjoy!