Hard Apple-Pear Cider Recipe

Updated on May 22, 2017
Farmer Rachel profile image

Rachel is a soap making, wine brewing small farmer in Minnesota, running One23 Farm with her husband, a dozen sheep, and blue heeler dog.

The sad-looking but productive little pear tree.
The sad-looking but productive little pear tree. | Source

Old, ugly fruit trees

The old, ugly pear tree in my orchard gave me a great idea this summer. It lives next door to the old, ugly peach tree. If you read my article on making peach wine, you might remember my sad little story about the peach tree and how I inadvertently donated its harvest to the deer, raccoons, and maybe to my goat. I learned a good lesson there.

Armed with experience, and as soon as the fruit was edible, I picked every pear within arm’s reach off of the tree, and what I could reach climbing. After losing all of my peaches, I wasn’t going to let these pears alone.

It may have been a bad year for corn, tomatoes, peaches (and just about everything else), but from what I can tell it was a banner season for pears.

Twenty-five pounds of pears later, and one bump on the nose from some silly branch-shaking maneuver, I was ready to make some country wine. But to be honest, I’ve been boring myself a little with my simple single-fruit fermented beverages. So for this recipe, let’s take two things we know to be delicious and make something a little more unique! (I have a simple hard apple cider recipe too, if you're interested in that instead.)

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons good quality sweet apple cider
  • 9-10 pounds pears, sliced and/or chopped, seeds and stems removed
  • 1 packet wine yeast, (Lalvin EC1118 or EC1122 is what I recommend)
  • about 3 gallons water
The pears!
The pears! | Source
Source
I bought my sweet cider from a local orchard. Apple juice from the store will work (as long as it doesn't have preservatives) but starting with quality helps ensure quality in the end.
I bought my sweet cider from a local orchard. Apple juice from the store will work (as long as it doesn't have preservatives) but starting with quality helps ensure quality in the end. | Source

Things you'll need besides the ingredients

  • A five-gallon bucket for primary fermentation
  • An airlock
  • Knife for cutting and slicing
  • Tubing for racking the cider
  • A second five-gallon container (bucket, carboy, jug, etc.) for secondary fermentation

Instructions for Making Apple Pear Cider

  1. Make a yeast starter: Pour a little cider into a cup. Add the yeast. Set this out at room temperature. You'll know it's "working" when the mixture gets cloudy and foamy.
  2. Wash the pears. Remove the stems. Cut up the pears, discarding brown spots, seeds, and any other parts that look a little questionable. Put the cut up pears in the bottom of your clean and sanitary primary fermentation container.
  3. Boil about one gallon of water. Pour the boiling water over the into the bucket, on top of the pears. This is a form of flash-pastuerization, and should take care of any bacteria or wild yeast that might have been clinging to the fruit.
  4. Into the bucket goes the sweet apple cider!
  5. Stir the mixture.
  6. Add the remaining water, about 2 gallons, until you have a total of five gallons of stuff in the bucket.
  7. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. DO NOT add the yeast until the mixture is cool - high temperatures will kill your yeast!
  8. When the mixture is room temperature, pitch the yeast starter into it. Give it a little stir.
  9. If you are using a brewing bucket (like I have), put the lid on the bucket and affix an airlock. If you're using a regular bucket (nothing wrong with that!) simply cover the bucket with some tight plastic wrap. Make sure flies and other fruit-loving creatures can't get in.
  10. Now you basically play the Waiting Game!

Rate this recipe!

4.4 stars from 10 ratings of Apple Pear Cider
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Primary Fermentation

Primary fermentation should take 1 to 2 weeks with this recipe. Regardless, I wouldn't leave the cider sitting with the fruit for much longer than that.

During this time, you'll see lots of activity in the airlock (if you're using one). The bubbles should slow down after about a week. At this point, you can rack the cider into a secondary fermentation container. This could be another bucket, a glass carboy, or a big bottle.

If you're using plastic wrap instead of a lid with an airlock, you'll probably notice the plastic wrap swelling during primary fermentation. This is the result of a buildup of carbon dioxide gas, a natural by-product of fermentation. You should remove the plastic wrap briefly every so often to allow the gas to escape. Again, after about one week, you will probably notice that there doesn't seem to be as much gas building up in the bucket. Time to rack the cider!

Racking:
Racking is a simple procedure in which a tube is used to siphon the liquid cider off of the sediments and other solids (including the pears).

To rack the cider using plastic tubing, place the bucket up on a table near the edge. Place the secondary fermentation container (whatever you've chosen to use) under the bucket, either on the floor or on a chair. Put one end of the tube down into the cider, but not all the way to the bottom of the bucket. In other words, try not to disturb the sediments with the tube. Suck on the other end of the tube until the cider flows, and get the tube into the secondary fermentation container quickly before you lose you're precious beverage - it comes out quick!

Alternatively, if you don't feel like using tubing for this first racking, you could just pour all of the liquid through cheesecloth to remove the solids. You'll want to rack the cider by siphoning eventually, at least when you bottle it, but for now it's not completely necessary.

Secondary Fermentation and Aging

Secondary fermentation should take 1 to 3 months. This simply means that you will allow the cider to continue to ferment in the carboy or jug. This is usually a slower, less active fermentation, as most of the fruit sugars have already been used up.

The other purpose of secondary fermentation is to allow the cider to begin to clear - to allow the solid particles to fall out of suspension and collect on the bottom of the container, so that your final product will be more or less clear, rather than "soupy" looking.

So basically, wait around for 1 to 3 months, then rack the cider again. This time, you can separate the five-gallon batch into bottles if you'd like. I prefer 1-gallon bottles, as this makes my life simpler! Old wine bottles with clean and sanitary, and undamaged, corks work just fine. Jars with tight lids work well, too.

Aging:
The recommended aging period for cider is 6 months. This doesn't mean it won't be tasty three months after you started it! I'll wager that if you tried this recipe today, at the end of August, you'd be drinking delicious apple-pear cider in January.

But of course, the longer you allow the cider to age, the better it will be. That's part of why I like making larger batches - drink some, age some!

Is five gallons a little more than you're looking for?

This recipe is for five gallons of apple-pear cider. It can be scaled down to as little as one gallon by dividing the ingredients. For instance, a one gallon batch of this stuff would call for 1/2 gallon of sweet cider, 1/2 gallon water, and 1 1/2 pounds of pears.

In general, try to include one gallon of water for every three pounds of pears used.

Questions & Answers

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      • Farmer Rachel profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Koski 

        8 months ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        Brian, the seeds are removed because they don't contribute anything positive to the cider and you want to avoid unnecessary things in your fermentation vessel.

        Adding extra sugar to this recipe will likely result in a product closer in alcohol content to wine (10+%) than cider (4-6%). It's up to you if you want a higher alcohol content. The beverage won't be sweeter just by adding extra sugar unless you do something to arrest fermentation - there are additives you can buy to accomplish that.

        I would be careful adding sugar during bottling because if you have enough active fermentation still going on, the added sugar will be fermented and the resulting gas can break your seals or bottles. It can get explosive.

      • profile image

        Brian Simpson 

        9 months ago

        Hello. I was wondering why you remove the seeds. Is this to reduce bitterness? Also the addition of sugar, is this bypassed by your addition of the apple cider?

        I have just made a batch of pear cider using 1 gallon pulped washed pears no stem, 4 kg white sugar and 6 gallons water approx with the same yeast and pectinaise. Thinking of adding sugar to each bottle for carbonisation after brew finishes.

        Thoughts or suggestions would be great.

      • Farmer Rachel profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Koski 

        13 months ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        @Potcherboy - actually, you don't need to reduce the yeast. It will just ferment faster if you don't, which won't cause any harm or change the final result.

      • profile image

        Potcherboy 

        13 months ago

        I’m assuming if I half the recipe I should half the amount of yeast—corrrct

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 

        3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Rachel, this sounds delicious and tempting to try. I would love to buy a store-brought version of it,since it seems daunting to make at home. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

      • Farmer Rachel profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Koski 

        6 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        mvillecat - Thanks for the comment! Cherry wine was actually the first wine I ever made - it was back in summer 2010, the last time the cherry tree here at the farm produced anything worth harvesting. It was my best wine and I can't wait for the chance to make more. I love homemade wines and ciders. I think it's the sulfites/sulfates that turn me off to store-bought stuff. Since I started making my own, and I never went back!

      • mvillecat profile image

        Catherine Dean 

        6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

        I drank homemade wine for the first time a few nights ago at a social gathering. This guy had made apple and cherry. I cannot believe how many people consumed that wine because it was so wonderful. I don't think he took anything home with him. I like the apple best. Great hub.

      • Farmer Rachel profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Koski 

        6 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        bd - Always nice to hear from you, thanks for the comment and votes, shares, etc! I learned by doing, haha. The real truth is that it's not hard. Something sweet and tasty + yeast = something tasty that will give you a buzz! And thank you so much for your kind words about my writing, I do try. Guess my English degree wasn't totally worthless ;)

        Jake - I hope you will try it! This is a pretty easy one. Don't worry about the risk of a bad batch of homebrew. While it can happen, if your equipment is clean and your yeast is good, you should be fine! If you're not sure about a finished product, smell it, then taste it. If it tastes bad, age it. If it still tastes bad, chuck it! The only time I've made icky stuff was when I used old plastic gallon jugs and cheap apple juice :)If you just want plain cider, I have a hub on that, too. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • JakeFrost profile image

        Jake Frost 

        6 years ago from London, United Kingdom

        Yum, cider!

        I definitely think this is a recipe I shall be trying.

        I have read all these stories about people that brew their own 'beverages' and was always to scared to give it ago myself. These easy to understand instructions make it near impossible to fail.

        Thanks for taking the time to write this great hub.

        Voted up, and (almjst definitely) useful

        ~ Jake

      • bdegiulio profile image

        Bill De Giulio 

        6 years ago from Massachusetts

        Rachel, you definitely have a knack for brewing these tasty beverages. How on earth did you learn all of this? I also need to add that your writing skills are exceptional, you have a wonderful way of explaining things and it just flows naturally. Another great job. Certainly worthy of a vote up, share, etc. I will post to my twitter, pinterest, etc. also.

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