December 27, 2012

Recipe 22 - Homemade Holiday Sparkling Cider

Since it's the holidays, I couldn't let them get away without making some tasty holiday soda. 
Basically I made a 5 gallon batch of my friend's Ginger Cider Lemonade with a little adaptation so I didn't have to use so many lemons.
Once that was all mixed up in a keg, I carbonated it at 30psi between 34 and 40°F.  Pretty simple.  It's really good as is and fits almost any occasion.

Cranberry Syrup:
I wanted some variety with some cranberry syrup to be more festive, so I picked up some cranberries in the produce department.  Cranberries are pretty firm, so to draw the juice out of them I heated them up on the stove with some sugar and water:
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

As the berries heat up, they'll burst.  This is completely normal.  Mash them up with a potato masher as you go to break up the pulp and skins.  This pulls the color out of the skins, too to give you a nice natural red for your syrup.  Strain the mash, then squeeze it through a cloth jelly bag to remove the larger skin chunks and the seeds from the tasty part of the syrup.

I bottled everything in champagne bottles (or Martinelli's) to be more portable, but also to mix in the different flavors.  To a 24oz bottle I added 1-2oz of syrup and then topped up with the carbonated cider, capped it, and shook it to mix.  1oz gives enough color and flavor that it's noticeable, but not too tart.  2oz really gives a really nice cranberry bite.

I also added some of my pumpkin pie syrup  to some of the bottles for a spiced holiday cider flavor.  It reminded me a bit of a pleasant mix of apple pie and pumpkin pie, but the pumpkin puree detracted a bit from the clean crisp clarity that I expect out of a sparkling cider.

Sodastream Version

I love the ginger cider lemonade recipe, and it is nice to have 5 gallons of a finished sparkling beverage on tap, but I do recognize that many people may not have that luxury.  Many of the home soda makers warn that you should only carbonate water and add the flavor later.  That may not work well for the above recipe, but a frozen juice concentrate would make an excellent base for a sparkling cider.  I took some of my cranberry syrup and added it along with an inexpensive grape juice concentrate to carbonated water for a clone of Welch's Sparkling Cranberry Red Grape.  We love the Welch's Sparkling Blueberry and Red Grape at our house, so a blueberry syrup and grape juice concentrate blend is on deck for the next round of sparkling goodness.
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