How to Make the Best Apple Cider

By on October 18, 2012

Tricia uses many different apples for her homemade cider blend.

Do you have a favorite apple? Would you like to make your own apple cider with your favorite apple as the only ingredient? Surprisingly, that would not taste very good.

Create the best apple cider with a mixture of apples from different groups

Tricia makes apple cider at home in our video. She uses six kinds of apples with our crusher and press.

The qualities that apple experts consider when classifying apples into groups are sugar (measured by Brix), acidity, and tannin. Mixing apples that carry these various attributes is what gives a homemade cider a robust flavor and satisfying “mouthfeel”.

To get you started, here are some popular apples in each group. Seek out your local apple orchards to find varieties that grow especially well in your area, and create a special blend based on your county’s best apples, and your own preferred flavors.

Starting Point for Cider Blending

Tricia explains in our cider-making video that a good blending starting point for new cider makers is 50% sweet, 35% sharp, and 15% bitter.

SWEET

Sugar! These apples make your cider sweet, but they’ll need partners from the other groups:

Golden Delicious
Fuji
Gala
Red Delicious
Jonagold

SHARP

Tartness comes with higher acid levels:

Gravenstein
McIntosh
Northern Spy
Winesap
Liberty

BITTER including BITTER-SWEET and BITTER-SHARP/BITTER-TART

Bitter-sweets are high in the tannins that add complex flavor to ciders, and high in sugar. Bitter-sharp and bitter-tart are two names for the group of apples that are high in tannins, with plenty of acid.

Dolgo Crabapple
Cortland
Newtown
Foxwhelp
Porter’s Perfection

For more information about apple cider, including making hard cider or vinegar, here’s a useful article from the University of Georgia Extension. We also have a detailed booklet on Making the Best Apple Cider.

Let us know what blends of apples you use in your cider!

  Comments (6)

M

I have a tangy apple that we call a “rusty-coat.” I believe it is a Ruskin. It is small, less than 3” diameter, and tangy to the point of being sour. Would it work as a cider apple? It is probably our best bearing tree, but our friends and family do not seem to like it, so I’d love to find some use for it.

Posted by Michael on Oct. 08, 2017 at 11:58:09 AM

Michael, I was not able to find out any information on the apple Ruskin. But if it is a sour or tart apple, or even a bitter apple, you can include it in the mix for apple cider. I would not use it as the only apple, the best apple cider is a blend of apples.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Oct. 09, 2017 at 12:42:51 PM

H

How would honecrisp apples be classified? Also same to gravenstein. Thank you

Posted by Hailey on Oct. 17, 2017 at 9:21:10 PM

Hailey, Honeycrisp is considered sweet and gravenstein is on the list above for sharp.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Oct. 18, 2017 at 4:07:17 PM

W

How would Jonathan apples be classified? They are really nice for baking; not sure about cider. Thanks

Posted by Wheelhat on Oct. 22, 2017 at 6:42:08 PM

Wheelhat, Jonathan are sweet/sharp, so they can be used in either category.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Oct. 23, 2017 at 11:54:24 AM

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