Most people don’t realize how well black pepper and strawberries go together. How do I describe what they’re like? They’re like two peas in a pod, no, more like bread and butter. That’s not it either… a match made in heaven? Yeah, they’re like that. (Yes I just used every over used cheesy comparison I could, and I’m not sorry about that.) They’re a combination that, at first, sounds disgusting together, but actually work well, really well, in fact. If you’ve watched any cooking shows you’ve probably heard a chef describe a dish as balanced. What he/she means is that the dish is perfectly seasoned and the combinations of acidity, sweetness, and spiciness work together to make the dish delicious. This is what black pepper and strawberries naturally do together, they’re like that annoying couple you know who’s relationship shouldn’t work but does, and they’re happy. The earthy spiciness of the black pepper corn compliments and even enhances the sweetness of the strawberries. I’ve enjoyed them together in salads or even on their own since my college years which is why I thought they’d work well in a cider. It was a bit of an experiment but it paid off and I’m proud of how this peppered strawberry cider turned out.
Out of all the cider’s I’ve made this one is by far my favourite. It’s subtly complex, which I know makes me sound like a snob, but I don’t care because it’s delicious AND it makes me feel like I’ve reached a new brewing level. (let me have this one, ok?) When first poured into a glass it smells like any other cider, fresh and crisp and at first taste it’s light, clean and a little earthy. But as it is allowed to aerate the scent of strawberries begins to come through consequently bringing out mild strawberry flavour. Shockingly the black pepper sort of goes undetected until after a few mouthfuls and you begin to recognize the earthiness, not the spiciness of the black peppercorns. This peppered Strawberry Cider challenges your taste buds in ways similar that of wine (that’s a good thing, you wine haters).
Although I absolutely love this cider I’m not 100% satisfied with it. I’m disappointed that that the spiciness of black peppercorns didn’t translate. I was hoping that it would because it would have had added another complex layer. I’ve already started another batch which should be ready in a couple weeks, and so far I think I’ve made the appropriate adjustments to make a good thing better. But we’ll see, in the meantime brew this because you might just make the best thing since sliced bread.
Peppered Strawberry Cider
5 Gallons of 100% Apple Juice, no sugar or preservatives added
1 Package of Nottingham Ale Brewers Yeast
1 Ounce Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Kg Frozen Strawberries
In a 6 gallon carboy pour in apple juice. Pitch yeast and let ferment for 2 weeks.
Once primary fermentation is finished, clean and sanitize another carboy. In your sanitized carboy add in the frozen strawberries and black peppercorns and rack cider on top. Let ferment for an addition 1 week.
Once secondary fermentation is complete keg or bottle.
Rack cider into bottling bucket and begin bottling. Let carbonate for 2-4 days or however long it takes, this depends on temperature and how active the residual yeast is. To ensure you have reached your desired carbonation use a plastic pop bottle as one of your bottles. When the cider has reached proper carbonation the pop bottle will be firm as a bottle of pop. Pasteurize and refrigerate.
Serve and enjoy.