Apples for cider

So after reading some of Dave’s (dmtaylo2) posts, I decided that I really want to try my hand at making cider from fresh pressed fruit. However, that being said, I am too cheap to go buy a ton of apples. I remembered that my neighbor used to have an apple tree in her front yard that she did not harvest the fruit from (she cut it down last year unfortunately). This gave me the idea that there are likely lots of people in the area that have apple/pear trees but do not harvest the fruit. So I have posted to the local FreeCycle forum to find such people and hope to barter with them for their fruit.

  1. Has anyone here done anything like this? If so, any success?

  2. What should I look for in the types fruit? Anything I should watch out for?

Obviously the harvest is still several months away, but this way I can plan it out way ahead. I also realize that if I do find some good sweet apples I may need to incorporate some bitter/sour apples, but again, I have plenty of time to plan for this.

Any feedback welcome! Thanks!


While there are exceptions, basically, the rule is: the worse apples are for eating, the better they are for cidermaking and vice versa.

The reason is, the apples that are the best for eating (honeycrisp, gala, granny) are largely comprised of fructose, and some malic acid. Fructose ferments out completely.

What largely makes for excellent cider apples is the presence of tannins…which you don’t really want when you bite into an apple, but you do want when you take a sip of hard cider. Otherwise, IME, you have a one dimensional product with faint notes of apple and booze. The tannins are unfermentable, stay through to the finished beverage, and really give a cider (or a wine) structure. Thats why so many people treat (or as wine purists say, “manipulate”) finished wine/cider with tannins and acids.

If you are looking for specific varieties, try Rome, Paula Red, Winesap, Spartans, Wolf Rivers, Red Astricans, Northern Spies, and maybe Jonathans as a start.

The other thing you can do is use a fraction of juice from crabapples (which are full of malic acid and tannins) with juice from apples otherwise largely intended for eating. Or as said above, you can treat finished cider with some of these acids and/or tannins, which are available for purchase.

I think doing it through Freecycle is an awesome idea. You may also be able to find and/or incorporate some pear juice, which I personally think rocks, especially when highly carbonated.

All that being said, I’ve also made a quick cider with single varietal golden russet juice, which are good to eat, make great n/a juice, and a good fermented cider as well. Cidermaking is a lot closer to winemaking than brewing, where it is more about the agriculture than the process.

As the kids say, YMMV!

This is really great info, thank you sooo much for the details!

This should be a lot of fun this fall. I have hooked several of my neighbors into making cider and beer, so I will plan a fall block party to press the fruit.

I will post response later once I start locating some fruit.

Thanks again!