Unlocking the Full Potential of Culinary Apples: Elevate your Cider with Tannins
Last updated: 11/2023
Applies to: Cidermakers looking to enhance complexity, structure, and quality of ciders produced using culinary apples, concentrate, bulk juice, etc...
Cider fermentation begins with clarified juice from apples. Different juice sources, such as fresh-pressed apple juice, concentrate, and juice made from different varieties of apples, have unique advantages and disadvantages that can affect the final product. This article explores how apple juice source impacts resulting flavor profiles and how flavor profiles can be changed by using tannins.
APPLE CHEMISTRY AND CIDER PROFILES
Apples used in cidermaking can be broadly categorized based on their sweetness, acidity, and tannin levels. These characteristics play a crucial role in the final flavor and mouthfeel of the cider. The four categories of apples used in cidermaking are:
- Sweet: Low in tannins, low in acidity, and high in sweetness. They may lack structure and acidity. (Most culinary and dessert apples fall within this category)
- Sharp: Low in tannins, high in acidity, and less sweet. They contribute tartness and brightness to ciders.
- Bittersweet: High in tannins, low in acidity, and relatively sweet. They contribute structure and complexity to ciders.
- Bittersharp: High in tannins and acidity, with lower sweetness levels. They contribute both structure and tartness.
Although cider apples are traditionally used, culinary apples have long been favored due to their affordability and accessibility. They provide a solid foundation for cider production, allowing the operation to remain economically sustainable. However, when used as the main juice source the resulting ciders might fall short in terms of complexity.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
- Sweetness is due to the sugar (mainly fructose) from the apples. Post-fermentation other compounds can mimic sweetness, examples could be oak or mannoproteins. Sweetness is a good counterbalance to acidity and tannic intensity. However, if the cider is too sweet (i.e., it does not have enough acid or tannic intensity to balance the sweetness) then the ciders can taste flat and cloying.
- Sharpness is due to the malic acid which is the main apple acid. Malic acid can range from 3.73-6.58 g/L (1). Sharpness can be counterbalanced with sweetness or polysaccharides from yeast derivative nutrients or mannoproteins.
- Bitterness is due to the polyphenolic (tannin) content. For apples to be classed as high tannin varietals they must have >0.2% tannin (>2g/L). The tannin content can be counterbalanced with sweetness or polysaccharides from yeast derivative nutrients
BUT TANNINS ARE MORE THAN JUST STRUCTURE
Tannins can do more in cider than just enhance mouthfeel and structure. These compounds can also impact color and
- Impact on color: Tannins possess antioxidant properties that can significantly affect the color profile of cider. While all tannins exhibit some level of oxidation inhibition, their effectiveness varies based on their botanical origin.
- Impact on Aroma Compounds: Tannins influence aroma compounds in diverse ways, including stabilization, reinforcement, and the introduction of compounds that enhance aroma perception.
CHOOSING TANNINS TO ELEVATE YOUR CIDER
The choice of tannin can substantially impact mouthfeel. For ciders that are lacking in tannin intensity (or ciders that are a bit too sweet or lacking acid) SCOTT’TAN FT BLANC or ROYAL can be used. If the ciders are too tannic or sharp (acid) then these attributes can be balanced using SCOTT’TAN FT BLANC SOFT or RICHE EXTRA.
In addition to impacting mouthfeel, tannins have the potential to elevate the aroma of ciders. To increase fruity aroma perception, consider using SCOTT’TAN FT BLANC CITRUS or FT ROUGE BERRY. For imparting oak-like qualities reminiscent of barrel aging, consider using SCOTT'TAN RICHE EXTRA or ROYAL.
Note: These tannins can be introduced at different stages of production, read product descriptions for more information.
Note: Tannins are not the only tools for modulating aroma perception and mouthfeel. Consider exploring yeast derivative nutrients such as OPTI-WHITE and GLUTASTAR, along with colloidal stabilizers like FLASHGUM R LIQUIDE, ULTIMA SOFT, and the FINAL TOUCH range of mannoproteins.