Lately cider’s all the rage, showing up in cans and bottles on on draft, all around the town. And the flavors! Lemongrass, ginger, dry-hopped, hibiscus…we had to get in on the game.
And it’s a simple step, really. A simple syrup step…
Ginger and apple have a special seasonal kind of simpatico, and if you made apple cider this fall, chances are that it is ready to bottle about now. If you want your hard cider to sparkle, of course you have to add a little more sugar, to give the yeast something to work with.
This step, known as priming, involves adding sugar, usually in the form of a simple syrup. And as we know from *ahem* extensive testing, simple syrups are a great way to infuse flavor into everything from canned fruits to cocktails.
Usually, we want to use about 1.5-2 tablespoons of sugar per gallon. If you lose some volume in the racking step, you can make up that volume with the syrup, a handy trick indeed. So how much water (and thereby ginger flavor) is in your syrup, should depend on how much volume you want to make up. The amount of sugar is the thing to be exact about. As long as the ratio of sugar is 1.5 to 2 tablespoons per gallon, how much water that sugar is dissolved into is up to you. Usually, we add about a cup of liquid per gallon.
How much ginger flavor do you want to infuse into your syrup? That depends on how spicy you want it. A mild, hint-of-ginger-kind of syrup can be made with as little as 2 inches of ginger, steeped in syrup for as long as it takes to cook. A really hot, spicy ginger syrup can be made with an entire hand of ginger, and left to infuse overnight. It’s really up to you. Because like it spicy, we usually make a syrup with a very intense ginger flavor, several inches of ginger, steeped overnight.
Wash the ginger root well. Slice the ginger into thin slices, and then into matchsticks or small dice. Grating it is also an option, but this sometimes imparts a cloudiness to the syrup.
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the ginger. For maximum ginger flavor, allow the ginger to infuse in the hot tea for several hours, even overnight. Reserve some of the unsweetened ginger tea, if desired, to add to the racked cider if necessary to make a full gallon.
Add the sugar to a cup of ginger tea and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir so that the sugar is completely dissolved, and boil for several minutes. This boiling time extracts the most amount of flavor from the ginger root.
Pour the syrup though a strainer into a mason jar or other easily lidded container, and allow syrup to cool in the fridge. Hot syrup would make the cider cloudy, and possibly kill of the yeasts that we are relying on for carbonation.
Sanitize the appropriate amount of bottles, a siphon, tubing, and another carboy equal or greater in size to the original.
Using a siphon, rack the finished cider into a sanitized carboy, leaving the sediment behind on the bottom of the original carboy.
Add the ginger syrup to the racked cider. Swirl, shake, or stir the carboy with a sanitized spoon to mix the ginger flavor into the cider well.
Using a bottling tip and a siphon, rack the ginger cider into sanitized bottles, such as these EZ-Cap pints. Fill to 1" below the top of the bottle.
Cap the bottles, and let them sit in a cool, dark place for at least 2-3 weeks.
When the allotted time has passed, crack open a bottle and enjoy. This cider keeps best, as all ciders do, in a cool, dark place with a steady temperature. Around 50° F and out of direct sunlight is best.
Store in a cool dark place, and enjoy within a year for best flavor.
It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.