The long awaited for release of WA-38, otherwise known as the Cosmic Crisp apple, is finally here. Cosmic Crisp was created in 1997 by WSU’s apple breeding program. This apple is a cross between the Enterprise and Honeycrisp varietals, which lend to the Cosmic Crisp’s fantastic crispness and juiciness. The apples will retain their crispness and flavor for several weeks if stored at room temperature and for even longer if stored in the refrigerator.
CosmicCrisp.com has numerous recipes available for incorporating these beloved apples into your holiday celebrations. Recipes include appetizers, entrees, beverages and desserts. Additionally, your local Extension office can provide you with tasty recipes so you can preserve the apples long-term and enjoy Cosmic Crisp’s flavor for months to come.
Although Cosmic Crisp is prized for its texture and taste, the adventurous may wish to try their hand at making fresh Cosmic Crisp cider at home. There are two main categories of cider: sweet cider is a freshly pressed non-alcoholic cider, while hard cider has been fermented and thus contains alcohol. Below are some tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and from Bri Ewing Valliere, our cider and perry specialist, for making cider at home.
Selecting and preparing apples
Blemished apples can be used for making cider, but the apples should be free of mold and other spoilage microorganisms. Using apples that appear brown, decayed or moldy can alter the fermentation process, which can ruin the cider. Under ripe apples can result in a flat flavor, so it is best to use fully ripe apples.
A bushel of apples (approximately 40-50 lbs) will yield about 3 gallons of juice. Sort apples and wash under clean running water. Core and cut the apples into quarters or smaller pieces. Wash glass jars or bottles in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Sanitize equipment and utensils by soaking in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of warm water for at least 1 minute. Prepare a clean muslin sack or jelly bag for juicing.
Core and cut apples then process through a food chopper, blender or food processor. Place the crushed pulp into the clean muslin sack (or jelly bag), squeezing out to collect the juice. For large quantities, you may wish to use a fruit press.
Making sweet cider
Fill clean bottles to just below the rim and stopper with new, clean cotton plugs. Never cap with a regular lid as the fermentation process produces carbon dioxide gas that can cause the bottle to pressurize and explode.
Let the juice ferment at 72°F for approximately three to four days. Sediment will begin settling on the bottom as gas bubbles rise to the top of the jar. Stop the fermentation at this point and extract the clear liquid while leaving the sediment behind. Be sure to follow the directions for pasteurization and storage below.
Making hard cider
Hard cider is produced when apple juice or sweet cider undergoes alcoholic fermentation. To do this, you will need to obtain a glass jug or carboy with a corresponding airlock that you can find online or at your local homebrew store. Fill the container about 3/4 of the way with juice.
You will also need a packet of active dry yeast, also available online at a homebrew store. Champagne yeast is most common for cider, but white wine yeast and others are also sometimes used. Add your yeast according to the packet instructions, seal the container with an airlock, and allow 2-4 weeks for fermentation. Follow the directions for pasteurization and storage.
Pasteurizing and storing cider
There have been multiple foodborne illness outbreaks caused by contamination of cider with Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Cryptosporidium. Thus, cider must be pasteurized prior to storage or consumption. The alcohol content in hard cider is insufficient to kill harmful microorganisms. Pasteurize the cider by heating to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but do not exceed 185 degrees. The boiling point of pure ethanol (the alcohol in hard cider) is 173.3 degrees, so it is best to keep the pasteurization temperature closer to, but higher than, 160 degrees to keep the alcohol from burning off. Check the temperature of the cider with a food thermometer. Skim off any foam and pour the hot cider into heated, clean and sanitized glass jars, then immediately refrigerate.
For more information on making cider at home, please visit this shortened web link: bit.ly/34s1sBd. For a wealth of information on ciders and perrys, visit WSU’s Cider Research and Education Program at cider.wsu.edu/cider-information/.
Regardless of how you choose to enjoy your Cosmic Crisp apples, they are sure to be a sensation at your holiday gatherings. Happy holidays from WSU Extension.