Tonight I put together my Autumn Dream Cider. This is my own recipe, I made it twice last year and it came out great. I've said it before, ciders are so easy... I actually put this together in 30 minutes while dinner was in the oven. This is different than the Summer Cider I did in May, a little crisper, drier, and more flavorful. This one has a few more ingredients and the extra step of steeping spices. It's not as cheap to make but it's pretty great.
5 gallons Fresh Local Cider (must be no preservatives, check the label. If it has potassium sorbate in the ingredients, it won't work)
1 lb Light Brown Sugar
1 pack Mulling Spices (I cheat and use a whole spice blend that my country farm store makes and sells... looks like clove, allspice, star anise, dried orange peel, cinnamon sticks... etc.)
1 cup Dried Cranberries (I try to find ones that don't have corn syrup or preservatives added)
1/2 cup Raisins (just regular old raisins)
1 pack S-04 Dry Ale Yeast
I always prefer to use fresh local ingredients when I can, in the summer it's really hard to find cider at all never mind cider with no preservatives. For my Autumn Dream Cider, I like to use fresh local cider that I get from the country farm store down the street from me. (I also picked up a 10lb pie pumpkin for this weekend's brewday)
So, I take a half gallon of cider and pour into a 4qt pot and heat on low. While that is heating up, I do all my sanitizing per usual. Once the cider on the stove is warm, I stir in the full pound of brown sugar until it's all dissolved. Then I rough chop the cranberries and raisins and add to the hot cider. Let steep for about 15 minutes, don't boil! Unlike brewing beer, no one is going to complain about the smell.
Pour all that into a clean sanitized fermentor while still hot. Then pour the rest of the cold cider (4 1/2 gallons) into the fermentor. Pour from a few feet up and let it splash and foam to aerate (yeast need the oxygen to multiply and get started) I got a 1.052 starting gravity reading. The mixed temp of the 1/2 gallon hot and 4 1/2 gallons cold comes out to a nice cool temp for the yeast to get started.
I'll let this ferment down to 1.010 to 1.005 and I'll stop fementation there by cold crashing (transfer to keg and put in fridge) the cold will make the yeast go dormant and drop to the bottom of the keg. I might play with some finings at the point to get it extra super clear, we'll see... Later.