Yes, you can make cider from frozen apples.
In fact, freezing apples can actually improve the quality of your cider by concentrating the flavors and sugars in the fruit.
Some traditional cider makers, such as those in Canada, make so-called “Ice Cider” from frozen apples that are fermented into a concentrated high alcohol wine, not unlike port wine.
In this blog post, we will explore the process of making cider from frozen apples, and discuss the benefits and challenges of using frozen fruit in your homebrew.
The effects of freezing on apples
Freezing apples breaks down cell walls
When apples are frozen, the water inside their cells expands and causes the cell walls to rupture. This process is helpful for cider making because it helps release the fruit’s natural sugars and juices, making it easier to extract juice for fermentation.
In fact, many commercial cider makers use a process called “cryoconcentration” to enhance the flavor of their ciders. This involves freezing apple juice and then slowly thawing it, allowing the sugars and flavors to concentrate in the liquid that remains.
Flavor changes in frozen apples
While freezing apples can help concentrate their flavors, it’s important to note that some flavors may be altered by the freezing process.
Some people find that frozen apples have a slightly different taste than fresh ones, but this isn’t necessarily a drawback. In some cases, the altered flavor can actually enhance the taste of the cider.
Making Ice Cider the Traditional Canadian Way
Ice cider (or “cidre de glace” in French) is a type of dessert cider that originated in Quebec, Canada, in the early 1990s. The process of making ice cider is distinctive and leverages the cold Canadian winters.
Here’s a brief overview of the traditional Canadian method of making ice cider:
Making Ice Cider:
- Apple Selection: Start with choosing the right varieties of apples. Often, a mix of tart and sweet apple varieties is selected. It’s crucial that the apples used are of high quality and have matured fully.
- Harvesting: Unlike regular cider, where apples are harvested in the fall and then pressed, for ice cider, apples are left on the trees well into winter.
- Natural Cold Concentration: During the cold winter months, the apples will naturally freeze and thaw multiple times. This process concentrates the sugars in the apples as water freezes and separates from the sugar and acids.
- Pressing: The frozen apples are pressed, usually in very cold conditions. This process extracts a concentrated apple juice, leaving the ice (water content) behind.
- Fermentation: The concentrated juice is then fermented. This process can be slower than typical cider fermentation because of the high sugar content.
- Aging: The cider is aged for a period, which can be several months to a few years, to develop and mature its flavors.
- Bottling: After aging, the cider is bottled. It may be filtered and pasteurized to stabilize it.
Taste of Ice Cider:
Ice cider is renowned for its rich, luscious, and concentrated flavors. It typically showcases:
- Intense apple flavors
- Notes of honey, caramel, apricot, and citrus
- A good balance between sweetness and acidity
- A viscous, syrupy texture akin to dessert wines
Legality Around Cryo-distillation:
It’s essential to differentiate between cryo-concentration and cryo-distillation:
- Cryo-concentration is the process used in ice cider production. It involves naturally freezing the apples or juice to concentrate the sugars and flavors, then fermenting the resulting juice. This process doesn’t involve distillation.
- Cryo-distillation involves freezing a liquid (often already fermented wine or cider) and removing the ice to concentrate alcohol and flavors. This method can produce spirits with higher alcohol content.
In many jurisdictions, including Canada, distillation outside of licensed facilities is illegal, primarily due to concerns about safety, quality control, and tax revenue.
If you’re considering making any product through distillation, you should thoroughly investigate the laws and regulations in your area.
Preparing frozen apples for cider making
Thawing your frozen apples
Before you can make cider from your frozen apples, you’ll need to thaw them. There are several methods for thawing fruit, but the best approach for cider making is to use a slow thaw.
This helps ensure that the flavors and sugars remain concentrated in the fruit. To do this, simply move the frozen apples from the freezer to the refrigerator and let them thaw for a few days.
Crushing and pressing frozen apples
Once your apples have thawed, you can proceed with crushing and pressing them to extract the juice. A fruit crusher and press are the best tools for this job, but you can also use a juicer or even a potato masher in a pinch. Keep in mind that using a juicer will also extract some of the pulp, which can affect the clarity of your cider.
Fermentation and other considerations
Choosing the right yeast
When making cider from frozen apples, it’s important to choose the right yeast for fermentation. There are many different types of yeast available, each with its own unique flavor profile.
Some popular choices include champagne yeast, ale yeast, and specialty cider yeasts. Experiment with different yeasts to find the one that best suits your taste preferences.
Managing your fermentation temperature
The temperature at which you ferment your cider can have a significant impact on the final product. Generally, a cooler fermentation temperature will produce a cleaner, more fruit-forward cider, while a warmer temperature will yield a more complex, funky flavor.
Aim for a fermentation temperature between 60-70°F (15-21°C) for the best results.
Aging your cider
Once your cider has finished fermenting, it’s important to give it time to age and develop its flavors. The ideal aging time for cider will vary depending on the type of apples you used, the yeast strain, and your personal taste preferences.
Generally, you’ll want to age your cider for at least a month, but some ciders may benefit from several months or even years of aging.
The benefits of making cider from frozen apples
Improved juice extraction
As we mentioned earlier, freezing apples can help break down their cell walls, making it easier to extract juice from the fruit. This means that you’ll likely get more juice from your apples when making cider from frozen fruit, which can be especially helpful if you’re working with a limited amount of apples.
Concentrated flavors and sugars
The process of freezing and thawing apples can help concentrate the flavors and sugars in the fruit, leading to a more flavorful and potentially higher-alcohol cider. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re using apples that are naturally lower in sugar content.
Flexibility in timing
One of the biggest advantages of making cider from frozen apples is the ability to make cider at any time of the year. If you have access to fresh apples during the fall harvest season, you can freeze them and make cider whenever it’s convenient for you. This is particularly useful for homebrewers with limited space or those who want to experiment with different types of apples throughout the year.
In conclusion, not only can you make cider from frozen apples, but doing so can lead to some distinct advantages in terms of flavor, sugar concentration, and convenience. To recap, here are ten key facts about making cider from frozen apples:
1. Freezing apples breaks down cell walls, aiding juice extraction.
2. Frozen apples can have a slightly altered flavor profile.
3. Thawing frozen apples slowly in the refrigerator is the best approach for cider making.
4. A fruit crusher and press are the ideal tools for extracting juice from frozen apples.
5. Experiment with different yeast strains to find the best flavor profile for your cider.
6. Fermentation temperatures between 60-70°F (15-21°C) are ideal for most ciders.
7. Aging your cider for at least a month will help develop its flavors.
8. Making cider from frozen apples can lead to improved juice extraction and concentrated flavors.
9. Using frozen apples allows for flexibility in timing your cider making.
10. Freezing apples allows you to experiment with different apple varieties throughout the year.
So go ahead and give it a try – making cider from frozen apples can be a fun and rewarding experience for any homebrewer.
Can you make cider from frozen fruit?
Yes, you can make cider from frozen fruit. Freezing the fruit can actually help break down the cell walls, making it easier to extract the juice. Just make sure to thaw the fruit completely before using it in the cider-making process.
Can you use frozen apples for canning?
No, it is not recommended to use frozen apples for canning as they may become mushy and lose their texture during the canning process. It is best to use fresh apples for canning.
Can I use apples that have been frozen?
Yes, you can use apples that have been frozen. However, they are best used in recipes that require cooking or baking, as the texture of the apples may become mushy when thawed. It is also important to note that frozen apples may have a slightly different flavor and texture compared to fresh apples.
Can you use frozen apples to make juice?
Yes, you can use frozen apples to make juice. However, it is important to thaw them before juicing to ensure a smooth and consistent juice.
How do you prepare apples for cider?
Apples for cider should be washed, cored, and chopped into small pieces before being ground into a pulp. The pulp is then pressed to extract the juice, which can be fermented into cider.
Why do you have to freeze apples before making cider?
Freezing apples before making cider helps to break down the cell walls of the fruit, making it easier to extract the juice and resulting in a higher yield of juice. It also helps to improve the flavor and aroma of the cider.