I have seen a few people posting online about their attempts at a pineapple hard cider recipe and it sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a shot. I am a big fan of pineapple (especially on pizza) and obviously love apples but I was a little skeptical on how they would turn out when fermented together.
The only fermented pineapple drink I have had was Tepache when I was in rural Mexico. Traditional Tepache is a naturally fermented beverage based with pineapple with brown sugar cinnamon and cloves. The flavorful drink is one of the most popular street beverages in Mexico.
Thinking back to that Tepache in Mexico gave me hope when I began to blend the apple and pineapple juice in the fermenter. The pineapple juice mixed with the apple and made a bright orange opaque solution with a sweet tropical scent.
I took a hydrometer reading and found the original gravity to be 1.050 SG. Since planned to use an ale yeast that will finish hopefully around 1.005, I estimated the apple pineapple cider would have a final ABV of approximately 5.9%. I thought about chaptalizing with apple juice concentrate to raise the original gravity but decided to keep it simple for the first batch.
Pineapple Cider Ingredients:
I chose a commercially produced apple juice and pineapple juice. I decided to stick with commercially produced juices because they tend to be blended and balanced so I know what I am starting with and can reproduce it. Once I find a good recipe, I will then try it with fresh pressed juice.
I chose to use an ale variety yeast, Nottingham, which finishes semi-sweet and adds notes of fruity flavors that compliment the pineapple and apple cider well.
The yeast nutrient and energizer will improve the health of the yeast which will produce finer tasting alcohol (fewer fusel alcohols ). When making a cider, yeast nutrient or DAP, is typically added in the beginning to increase the amount of dissolved nitrogen in the juice.
How to Make Pineapple Cider:
If you are new to cider making, start by reviewing the basic cider making instructions found here.
Preparing Cider for Fermentation:
Hydrometer & ABV Info:
Original Gravity: 1.050 SG
Target Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Expected ABV: 5.9%
Nottingham yeast tolerates temperatures between 50F-72F but I like to ferment at about 68F. Once the yeast was pitched, the pineapple cider didn’t take long to begin fermenting. The yeast acted quickly and within about 8 hours I began to notice a krausen layer forming on the surface.
Within about 24 hours the fermenter was almost full of foam so I switched the airlock out for a blow off tube. Shortly after, the pineapple apple cider began to blow off so I degassed the cider by gently swirling the fermenter multiple times to help relieve the CO2. after two days the foam receded and I switched back to a three piece airlock.
Only 5 days into the fermentation process, the airlock started to slow and eventually came to a stop.
Finishing the Pineapple Cider:
Once fermentation completely stopped, I placed the one gallon carboy into the refrigerator to cold crash the yeast and sediment out of the cider. Then, I racked the pineapple cider into a different clean and sanitized carboy so the cloudly pineapple would have more time to clear.
After a couple of days of cold crashing, the pineapple hard cider didn’t clear up much but I did notice a fair amount of sediment fall out. At this point, I decided to finish up the batch by racking it into a half gallon growler, a single bottle and left the rest for hydrometer testing and tasting.
Thoughts on Taste
The pineapple hard cider finished drier than I had expected although it was still packed with pineapple and fruity flavors. I immediately noticed the pineapple aroma as soon as I started to pour some off into the hydrometer test cylinder and really enjoyed it when I went in for a sip.
The final specific gravity of the pineapple cider was right about 1.000 SG so the estimated ABV was about 6.55%. The flavor of alcohol was definitely present in the cider although it was not unpleasant. I am curious to see what a couple of months of age will do to this batch!
Next time I will try to ferment the apple cider fully and then add the pineapple in the secondary, or back sweeten and keg to see what else is possible.
Overall, I am very happy with the initial results and will definitely be experimenting more with the pineapple hard ciders!