Cyser or apple honey cider is really a form of mead and it could be specifically classified as a melomel, which is the fermented product of honey and any fruit juice. Your cider making equipment is quite versatile in that it can be used not only to make cider but many fermented products including beer and mead. So let’s have a look at a recipe for something a little different, just in case you’re in the mood for a change.
- 4 liters (One Gallon) Apple Juice
- 500 grams (1 pound) of your Favourite Honey
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) Brown Sugar
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) White Sugar
- Cider Yeast
Please be aware that although this recipe is unsweetened the cyser can be sweetened in the same fashion as any cider using any of the methods described on the sweetening cider page. My own preference would be to sweeten the cider to taste at the first racking using an artificial sweetener such as Splenda or aspartame. Alternately you might consider halting the fermentation process with potassium sorbate and then sweetening with honey.
As always cleanliness cannot be overlooked, sterilize your cider making equipment and rinse it thoroughly with fresh water then allow it to drain for a few minutes. The ingredients can be combined with one of two methods.
Method one: Combine apple juice, honey, and sugars in the fermenter, note that the honey may not mix in very well however don’t let this alarm you as the yeast will break down a lot of the honey as it feeds on the sugars it contains.
Method Two: Combine apple juice, honey, and sugars in a pot and bring to boil stirring gently as the mixture heats up, taking care that it does not caramelize. Allow mixture to cool to the ideal temperature for the yeast you are using before adding it to your fermenter. If you use a glass fermenter adding the boiling hot mixture directly to it will cause the fermenter to crack or break. This method of combining the ingredients is the preferred method as it kills off any wild yeasts in the juice and honey (if you are using fresh unpasteurized products) and it mixes the ingredients more thoroughly.
Pitch the yeast and seal the fermenter making sure you add the correct amount of boiled water to the airlock. The airlock should start to bubble within about three days indicating that fermentation is taking place. The cyser will need to ferment for around 2 weeks or possibly longer in colder weather. Once fermentation is complete the airlock will bubble far more slowly, perhaps once a minute or so and at this point you should rack the cyser, transferring it into another sterile fermenter or vessel using a siphon, taking great care not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the original fermenter. Continue to rack the cyser at two-week intervals (or longer) until you are satisfied with the level of sediment suspended in the cyser. Generally, the cyser will become clear after two or three rankings.
Bottle the cyser in clean and sterile bottles. If a carbonated cyser is desired prime the bottles by adding one teaspoon of sugar or honey per 750ml (1.5 pints) of cyser before sealing the bottle.
Store the cyser in a dark place such as a cupboard at room temperature for at least three months before sampling. Generally, cysers do not taste their best for at least 6 months and sometimes longer. I would recommend sampling at six months and even if you find the flavor agreeable at this point keep a bottle or two aside for sampling when it is one year old, the taste might just surprise you.
Get inspiration from renowned cider companies, like Carolina Cider Company from South Carolina, to improve your recipe.
If you are using freshly made juice that is not pasteurized or sterilized you should treat it with one Campden tablet per gallon (4 liters) of juice and allow it to stand for at least 24 hours prior to pitching the yeast regardless of what the recipe states.