Craft drink expert Emily Han creates unique flavors in Wild Drinks and Cocktails (Fair Winds Press, 2015). Han teaches you techniques you need to know to craft your own infused waters, syrups, vinegar drinks, spirits, wines and sodas — each with powerful health benefits and a sentimental nod to drinks of another era. In this excerpt you will find a crisp twist on apple cider.
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Both my husband and I love sparkling hard cider, but we never got into making homemade versions for a couple of reasons. First, true home brewed cider, while delicious, can take many months to age, and we found that all the effort wasn’t worth it, because we didn’t have room to make and store more than a jug or two in our tiny apartment. We also tried making wild or “spontaneous”cider simply by leaving apple juice out to ferment (and there are folks who swear by this method). But this left us at the mercy of our wild yeasts, and, unfortunately, the results never tasted very good to us. Happily, this water kefir version of “hard cider” satisfies our palates and our desire for quicker, if not instant, gratification. It’s lightly alcoholic — about 2 percent — pleasantly dry, and a snap to make.
• 4 cups apple cider or cloudy apple juice
• 2 tablespoons water kefir grains
• 1 quart unchlorinated, unfluoridated water
• 1⁄4 cup cane sugar, such as granulated sugar, raw sugar, turbinado, or sucanat
1. Combine the apple cider and water kefir grains in a 1/2-gallon jar. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or a piece of cloth secured with a rubber band. Store the jar at warm room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and let it ferment for 24 to 48 hours. (Because of the high sugar content of the apple cider, the longer it ferments, the higher the alcohol content will be.)
2. Combine the water and sugar.
3. Strain the fermented apple cider through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar.
4. Transfer the water kefir grains to the jar of sugar water. (To keep water kefir grains healthy, always give them a rest in plain sugar water after using them in a fruit juice fermentation.)
5. Using a funnel, pour the fermented apple cider into a bottle, leaving at least 1 inch head space.
6. Cap the bottle tightly.
7. Store the bottle at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 12 to 48 hours.
8. When the cider is carbonated, transfer the bottle to the refrigerator. Store in the refrigerator and drink within 1 month.
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Reprinted with permission from Wild Drinks and Cocktails, by Emily Han and published by Fair Winds Press, 2015. Buy this book from our store: Wild Drinks and Cocktails.