Let me start by saying that these are most definitely crab apples. My guess is that for marketing purposes nobody will tell you how far from apple size they are, good ones were about 1.5". They are most certainly bitter sharps; acidity and a tongue-coating tannin blast. Taking a bite shows them to be proper spiters, which is what you want to see for a hard cider blend. Without plenty of those it would taste awful and without a backbone. Sort of like using table grapes to make wine.
But what made me do a double take was the sugar content, it registered an original gravity of 1.078 at 70f! I tested my hydrometer on water to make sure it was working. Funny how all that acidity and tannins really hid how much sugar they pack. If my measure is correct that puts the brix well north of 18.
I did not get many this year so they will just be added to my ongoing 5L batch of cider. It will be interesting to see how much that changes the end result. The batch finished initial fermentation a bit ago so I can get a good idea which way it was going. Next year I’ll try to do a batch with 100% of these. Push comes to shove I can always blend it with softer cider after fermentation.
I don’t know how well they would stand as a single variety cider, the acidity and tannins are way up the scale. Then again it is a bonus that they have sugar to contribute no matter what.
I’m going to raise these trees for cider apples, meaning no fertilization, ever. There are specific characteristics that show up in the glass when the trees are grown that way. In particular nutrient deficiency promotes lower fermentation which (with wild yeast as opposed to hyper active cultured yeast) creates a slightly less dry cider.
In Alaska so I get my trees as late as possible. That probably contributed to Stark Bros sending me the bottom of the pile, it was a hack job which had branches pointing all over. Besides that it seems like a good grower with sprawling branch habit. I’ll try to take a picture later.