Tannins are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in many plants, including apples, that can have a significant impact on cider making.
Apples contain a group of tannins known as procyanidins. Procyanidins are a type of condensed tannins that belong to the flavonoid, or polyphenol, family.
They are responsible for the astringent taste and slightly bitter flavor often experienced when eating certain apple varieties. Procyanidins are also present in other fruits, such as grapes, berries, and some types of nuts.
These compounds contribute to the color, taste, and health benefits associated with consuming apples and other plant-based foods.
They are responsible for the astringency, bitterness, and mouthfeel of the cider, and can also play a role in its stability and aging potential.
In this post, we will explore the different types of tannins found in apples, their role in cider production, and how to manage them to create the perfect cider.
The chemistry of tannins
Tannins belong to a class of compounds called polyphenols, which are made up of multiple phenolic groups.
These compounds are abundant in many plants and are responsible for the color, taste, and mouthfeel of various fruits and beverages, such as wine and tea.
There are two main types of tannins found in apples:
1. Condensed tannins or proanthocyanidins are the most common type of tannins found in apples. They consist of flavan-3-ol units linked together to form polymers. The size and structure of these polymers contribute to the astringency and bitterness of the cider.
2. Hydrolyzable tannins are less common in apples and are composed of gallic acid or ellagic acid esterified to a sugar molecule. These compounds can be hydrolyzed (broken down) into simpler phenolic compounds and sugars.
Apples and tannins
Not all apples contain the same amount of tannins. In general, cider apples have higher tannin levels than dessert or culinary apples. Cider apples can be further classified into four categories based on their tannin and acid content:
1. Sweet apples have low tannin and low acid content, which makes them suitable for blending with other cider apples.
2. Bittersweet apples have high tannin and low acid content, providing the body and structure of the cider.
3. Sharp apples have low tannin and high acid content, contributing to the acidity and freshness of the cider.
4. Bittersharp apples have high tannin and high acid content, making them ideal for single-variety ciders or as a part of a blend.
Tannins in cider making
Tannins play a crucial role in cider production, affecting not only the flavor but also the stability and aging potential of the final product. The presence of tannins can have both positive and negative effects on the cider:
– Positive effects: Tannins contribute to the body, structure, and mouthfeel of the cider, as well as its bitterness and astringency. They can also protect the cider from oxidation, which can improve its aging potential.
– Negative effects: Excessive tannin levels can result in an overly astringent and unpalatable cider. Furthermore, tannins can react with proteins in the cider, causing haze and sediment formation.
Managing tannin levels in cider
As a cider maker, it is essential to manage the tannin levels in your cider to achieve the desired balance of flavors and mouthfeel. Some strategies to control tannin content include:
1. Blending: Combining apples with different tannin levels can help achieve the desired balance of flavors and mouthfeel in your cider.
2. Cold maceration: Soaking crushed apples at low temperatures before pressing can help extract more tannins from the fruit, resulting in a more tannic cider.
3. Fining agents: Adding fining agents, such as gelatin or casein, can help remove excess tannins from the cider, reducing astringency and improving clarity.
4. Aging: Allowing the cider to age can help soften the tannins and improve the overall balance of flavors and mouthfeel.
Tannin analysis in apples and cider
To better understand the tannin content of your apples and cider, it is essential to perform tannin analysis. There are several methods available for measuring tannin levels, including:
1. Folin-Ciocalteu assay: This method measures the total phenolic content of the sample, which can be used as an estimate of tannin levels.
2. Protein precipitation assay: This method measures the ability of tannins to precipitate proteins, providing an indication of their astringency.
3. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC): This technique can separate and quantify individual tannin compounds, providing a detailed analysis of tannin composition.
Tannins are an essential component of apples and play a significant role in the production of cider. Understanding the different types of tannins found in apples, their impact on cider making, and how to manage them can help you create a cider with the perfect balance of flavors and mouthfeel. Here are ten key facts about tannins in apples:
1. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in many plants, including apples.
2. They belong to a class of compounds called polyphenols.
3. There are two main types of tannins found in apples: condensed tannins and hydrolyzable tannins.
4. Cider apples typically have higher tannin levels than dessert or culinary apples.
5. Tannins contribute to the astringency, bitterness, and mouthfeel of cider.
6. They also play a role in cider stability and aging potential.
7. Blending, cold maceration, fining agents, and aging can help manage tannin levels in cider.
8. Tannin analysis can be performed using methods such as the Folin-Ciocalteu assay, protein precipitation assay, or HPLC.
9. Tannin content can vary significantly between apple varieties and growing conditions.
10. Achieving the right balance of tannins is essential for creating a delicious and well-balanced cider.
Which apples are high in tannins?
Some apple varieties that are known to be high in tannins include the Kingston Black, Dabinett, and Yarlington Mill.
Are there tannins in apple skin?
Yes, apple skin contains tannins. Tannins are natural compounds found in various fruits, including apples. They contribute to the astringent taste and slightly bitter flavor of apple skin.
Is tannic acid present in apple?
Yes, tannic acid is present in apples. It is a naturally occurring compound found in various fruits, including apples. Tannic acid contributes to the astringent taste and can be found in higher concentrations in the skin of apples.
Which apples have the most tannins?
Apples with a higher tannin content typically include varieties like the Arkansas Black, Winesap, and Northern Spy.
What are the best apples for making hard cider?
The best apples for making hard cider are typically those with a balanced combination of tannins, acidity, and sugar content. Traditional cider apple varieties like Kingston Black, Dabinett, and Yarlington Mill are highly regarded for their complex flavors and tannic qualities.
Additionally, certain dessert apple varieties such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or Jonathan can be blended with cider apples to enhance sweetness and aromatics. Ultimately, the ideal blend of apple varieties depends on the desired flavor profile of the hard cider.
What foods contain tannic acid?
Foods that contain tannic acid include black tea, red wine, pomegranates, grapes, certain types of nuts (such as walnuts and almonds), and some fruits like apples and bananas.