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Pear Cider and Wine

How to make pear cider and wine from whole fruit.

Here’s how to turn whole pears into cider and/or wine. The recipe uses yeast nutrients rather than sulfites to control the length of fermentation. The resulting pear cider is deliciously sweet and light tasting. Pear wine is a rich dessert wine.

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 lbs of ripe pears
  • 18 cups of filtered water (chlorine-free)
  • 4 lbs of sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp acid blend (or 2 lemons juiced)
  • 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice (in addition to the acid blend)
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/4 tsp tannin (optional, to add body)
  • 1 packet wine yeast (LALVIN 71B-1122, affiliate link)
  • 1 tsp yeast energizer (for wine, see notes)

Instructions

  1. Follow the basic wine-making steps, including sanitation of ANYTHING that is going to touch the pears. (See the section above if you are new to cider and winemaking.)
  2. Wash the pears. Cut them in half and remove the core and any bad spots. Leave the skin on.
  3. Boil 4 cups of water. Pour the boiling water over the pears, then use a masher to mash the pears and extract the juice.
  4. Bring the remaining 14 cups of water to a boil, then pour the boiling water over the mashed pears.
  5. Put a lid on the pot and stash it in a quiet corner of your house.
  6. After 24 hours, add the sugar, acid blend, yeast nutrient, tannin, and lemon juice. Stir well to mix the ingredients. Follow the instructions on your yeast package (some will require re-hydrating before use). Add the yeast to the brew pot and stir it again. Give everything another good stir after one hour to make sure it is well mixed. If you want to calculate the alcohol levels, remove some of the liquid to measure the specific gravity.
  7. Put the lid back on the pot and leave it somewhere warm to ferment for 3-5 days. Give the mixture a good stir once or twice a day.
  8. After the initial ferment, strain out the solids by pouring the liquid through a mesh bag or a cheesecloth-lined strainer (sanitized). Move the liquid into carboys, top them with an airlock, and leave them to ferment for 3 weeks.
  9. After 3 weeks, rack them into clean jugs for another round of fermentation.

Cider

  1. If you’re making cider, bottle 2-3 weeks after the first racking.
  2. Allow the bottles to age and carbonate for a minimum of two weeks. Pear cider will taste best if it ages for at least 2 months.

Wine

  1. If you’re making wine, add the yeast energizer during the first racking. Just divide it between the carboys. It doesn’t need to be exact, the goal is to boost the fermentation.
  2. Rack again after 3 to 4 weeks to remove any remaining yeast. Let the wine age for 3 to 4 months in the carboy before bottling.
  3. Allow bottled wine to continue aging for a few more months. The wine will taste best if it is drunk the year after the primary fermentation. (So one whole year, start to finish.) I’m often tempted to sample early, but it’s always a disappointment.

Notes

  • Pears are low in the nutrients and tannins needed to make a good, flavourful cider and wine. Adding tannin early in the process improves the texture and flavor, and will help preserve the wine.
  • Yeast energizer helps to kick-start a sluggish ferment. Without it, the pears will only ferment into cider or a very sweet and low alcohol wine.
  • This year (2021) we had a bumper crop of pears. I’m trying the recipe with 5 lbs. of pears and 3 lbs of sugar. Will share the results next summer!

Keywords: cider, wine, homebrew, diy, whole fruit, no juice, summer, fall