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Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wine: Cider without Apples

Although apples are the traditional fruit used to make cider, pears are used to make a similar drink called perry, and other fruits are used to flavor cider including pineapple, strawberry, and elderflower. In her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines published in 1909, my paternal grandmother included a recipe for cider without apples or, in fact, any fruit. It includes only 4 ingredients: water, sugar, tartaric acid and yeast. The tartaric acid adds some flavor but is used primarily to add acidity since there are no apples in the recipe to do so. The type of yeast can be critical to making good cider but I suspect Grandmother used brewers yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) since she mentions it later in the recipe. According to the accepted definition of cider, Grandmothers brew is not a cider at all, but fortunately she will never know. Photo Credit Wikipedia

In the words of my grandmother:

To each gallon of cold water, put one pound common sugar, one-half ounce tataric acid, one tablespoonful of yeast. Shake well, make in the evening, and it will be fit for use next day. Make in a keg a few gallons at a time, leaving a few quarts to make into next time, not using yeast again until keg needs rinsing. If it gets a little sour, make a little more into it, or put as much water with it as there was cider, and put it with the vinegar. If it is desired to bottle this cider by manufacturers of small drinks, you will proceed as follows: five gallons hot water, thirty pounds brown sugar, three quarters pound tartaric acid, twenty-five gallons cold water, three pints of hops or brewers’ yeast worked into paste with three quarters pound flour, and one pint water will be required in making this past. Put all together in a barrel, which it will fill, and let it work twenty-four hours, the yeast running out at a bung all the time, by putting in a little occasionally to keep it full. Then bottle, putting in two or three broken raisins to each bottle, and it will nearly equal champagne.

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