Perry or Pear Cider is made by fermenting pear juice in much the same way as cider is made from fermented apple juice. The consumption of perry was once very common in centuries past, particularly in France, Normandy and the parts of England that were found to be ideal for growing perry pears but where cider apples failed to thrive.
A reasonable perry can be made from pears or pear juice intended for table use but perry pears are a better (and rarer) option if available, being higher in tannin and acid than eating pears. If using fresh pears allow them to mature and soften (but not rot) for some time after picking and allow the pomace to stand for a period after initial crushing to lose tannins. Treat fresh juice with campden tablets prior to pitching the yeast.
- 4 litres (One Gallon) Pear Juice
- One Soft Pear cored, peeled and diced (optional)
- 80g (3oz) Lactose OR 2g (1 teaspoon) wine sweeter (optional)
- Cider Yeast or Winemaking Yeast
Sterilise your fermenting equipment and anything that will come into contact with the perry or its ingredients. Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to drain.
Wash, peel and dice the pear into 1/4 inch cubes removing the core. Most fruit shop or supermarket pears will be washed and possibly even waxed so wild yeasts will not be a problem providing you rinse it well under running water prior to peeling and dicing. Add the pear juice then the diced pear to the sterile fermenter. If you elect to sweeten your perry and have chosen to add lactose mix it with a small amount of water and add it to the fermenter as well.
If you are using freshly made juice that is not pasteurised or sterilized you should treat it with one campden tablet per gallon (4 litres) of juice.
Pitch the yeast and seal the fermenter making sure you add the correct amount of boiled water to the airlock. The airlock should start to bubble within about two days indicating that fermentation is taking place. The cider will need to ferment for around 2-3 weeks or possibly longer in colder weather. Once fermentation is complete the airlock will bubble far more slowly, perhaps once a minute or so and at this point you should rack the perry, transferring it into another sterile fermenter or vessel using a siphon, taking great care not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the original fermenter. If you have elected to use an artificial sweetener it should be added at the first racking. Continue to rack the perry at two week intervals (or longer) until you are satisfied with the level of suspended sediment. Generally the perry will become clear after two or three rankings.
Bottle the perry in clean and sterile bottles. If a carbonated perry is desired, prime the bottles by adding one teaspoon of sugar per 750ml (1.5 pints) of perry before sealing the bottle.
Store the perry in a dark place such as a cupboard at room temperature for at least six months before sampling. If you find your homemade perry is palatable at six months and elect to drink it, consider putting aside a bottle or two, perhaps one to sample at one year of aging and another to sample after longer than that. Perry ages slowly due to its chemical makeup and keeping a few bottles for a long time may well be a pleasant treat that will reward you for your patience.
If you are using freshly made juice that is not pasteurized or sterilized you should treat it with one Campden tablet per gallon (4 liters) of juice and allow it to stand for at least 24 hours prior to pitching the yeast regardless of what the recipe states.
Follow the instructions and get inspiration from great cideries – to check one from South Carolina, click here.