Make Your Own Hard Cider

Make delicious, intoxicating hard cider at home with this simple process.
By Nathan Poell
October/November 2007

Some of the best hard cider comes from apples chosen specifically for their cider-making qualities.
PHOTODISC/GETTY IMAGES
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Brewing hard cider from nonalcoholic, or “sweet” cider is a simple process, and the inebriating end product is as delicious as it is discombobulating. Here are the steps you’ll follow to make hard cider of your own.

Find the Ingredients

Choose Your Juice. The best hard cider is made from sweet apple cider fresh from the cider press — whether your own, or a local cider mill’s. If you’re buying sweet cider, start by checking the label to be sure the cider doesn’t contain chemical preservatives, because these will kill your yeast and your cider will not ferment. (The cider is chemically preserved if sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate are listed on the label.) Your best bet for preservative-free cider is to buy it in season from a local orchard. In a pinch, you can also make hard cider with grocery store apple juice, as long as it doesn’t have preservatives.

Also, be aware that most commercial cidermakers are required to pasteurize their cider, and the process they use will affect the flavor. Preferably, your sweet cider should be “cold pasteurized,” which kills microorganisms with ultraviolet light. The usual method of pasteurization kills microorganisms with heat, which affects the flavor of the juice. If you’re not sure which method a local cider mill uses, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Choose Your Yeast. A variety of dry and liquid brewing yeasts will do the trick, and you can find them online or from homebrew stores. Although you can buy specialized liquid yeast packs for fermenting cider, dry wine yeasts do an excellent job and are much cheaper. (You can get a pack for less than a dollar.)

Make a Starter. The day before you brew your cider, make a starter. This step is optional, but it ensures that your yeast is proofed (i.e., alive) and will start fermenting your cider right away. To make a starter, open the bottle of preservative-free apple juice and pour out a few ounces. Pour the contents of one yeast packet into the bottle, reseal it and shake for a few seconds. Within five or six hours, you should see a bit of bubbling within the bottle. Once you do, release the pressure within the bottle, reseal it and put it in the refrigerator. Get it out a couple of hours before you brew.

Start Brewing

On brewing day, pour your cider into the brewpot and simmer it over medium heat for about 45 minutes. This will kill most of the wild yeasts and bacteria in the cider. Bolder cidermakers will forgo this step by pouring the sweet cider directly into a plastic bucket and then pitching in the yeast. If you follow this strategy, wild strains of yeast will still be in the sweet cider when it begins fermenting. This will alter the flavor of the cider. (It may or may not improve it.) If you do heat the cider, don’t let it boil! Boiling causes pectins to set, which creates a permanently hazy beverage. While simmering the cider, you can add the optional 2 pounds of brown sugar or honey. This will boost the fermentable sugar content in your cider and up the alcohol content.

Next, pour the cider into a sanitized fermentation bucket — an unsanitized bucket may spoil the cider. To sanitize, pour a capful of bleach into your bucket, fill it with water, let it sit for a half an hour, then dump out and rinse with cold water. (You can also buy non-bleach, no-rinse sanitizers at homebrew stores.) Let the cider cool to nearly room temperature, then add your yeast — or starter, if you chose to make one. Stir the mixture for a minute or two with a clean stainless steel or plastic spoon to aerate, then seal the lid and affix the airlock. Place the bucket in a room or closet where the temperature is 60 to 75 degrees — the closer to 60 degrees, the better. Stay within this range if you can: At lower temperatures the cider won’t ferment, while higher temperatures will speed up fermentation, but may also change the flavor.

Let it Ferment. Within a day or two you should see the airlock start to bubble. The gas it’s releasing is carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the fermentation process. Congratulations, your soft cider is on its way to becoming a delicious, inebriating elixir of the gods! This bubbling should subside within two weeks, signifying an end to the primary fermentation. After that, let the cider sit another week to allow the yeast to settle out.

Options For Bottling

There are a couple of different ways you can go at this point:

Option 1: Bottle the Cider Now. If you want to bottle the cider immediately, affix the rinsed food-grade tubing to the spigot on your fermentation bucket and pour the cider off into sanitized jugs or bottles. (Be gentle when moving the bucket full of cider. Sloshing can disturb the yeast sediment at the bottom of the bucket and cloud up your cider.) Seal the jugs or bottles. Let the bottled hard cider sit for another two weeks and then it will be ready to drink. Your cider will probably be “still” (i.e., not fizzy) unless you let it age for several months. Hard cider is more like wine than beer, and the flavor will improve as it ages.

Option 2: Let it Clarify. If you only use one fermenter, your cider will taste fine, but may not be perfectly clear because it will probably still have some suspended yeast. To reduce cloudiness, siphon your cider into a secondary fermenter (another food-grade bucket). Sanitize this bucket before filling it with cider. Once you’ve siphoned your cider into the secondary fermenter, put a sanitized lid and airlock on it and place it back in a dark and, preferably, cool location. A month should be ample time for the cider to clarify. After it’s aged for as long as you can stand, bottle it as above. This cider will most definitely be “still,” with no bubbles.

Option 3: Make Sparkling Cider. Regardless of whether you decide to bottle immediately or let it clarify in a secondary fermenter, if you want “sparkling” cider, you’ll have to add a couple steps at bottling time. First, boil 1 cup water with three-fourths cup honey or brown sugar. Pour this mixture into a sanitized bottling bucket (i.e., another fermentation bucket with a spigot at the bottom). Then, siphon your cider over from your fermentation bucket to the bottling bucket. The honey or brown sugar syrup and cider should mix together naturally, but stir slowly with a sanitized spoon if you feel it is necessary. Then, bottle as you would normally. You’ll have to let this sit a bit longer than the still cider, so the residual yeast will have time to ferment the sugar you added and carbonate the cider inside the bottle.

Drink the Cider! At this point, it’s time to start drinking your cider and thinking about brewing your next batch. With time and experience, your skills will grow and your recipes will become more complex. Soon, you’ll be making cider that delights your friends and terrifies your enemies.


Brewing Equipment

  • One 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket with spigot, lid and airlock
  • 3 to 6 feet of 5/16-inch food-grade plastic tubing
  • Stainless steel or plastic spoon
  • Enough half-gallon glass “growler” jugs or other bottles (including caps or corks) to store the finished cider
  • Optional: Stainless steel or enameled pot
  • Optional: a second 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket with spigot, or a glass carboy

Hard Cider Ingredients

  • 5 gallons of preservative-free, sweet apple cider, preferably unpasteurized
  • Two packets of wine yeast (Lalvin 71B or Red Star Cote des Blancs are good choices)
  • Optional for higher alcohol content: 2 pounds of brown sugar or honey
  • Optional for creating a starter: one 16-ounce bottle of preservative-free, pasteurized apple juice
  • Optional for sparkling cider: 3/4 cup honey or brown sugar

All About Hard Cider

Related Books

Cider, Hard and Sweet , by Ben Watson

Cider: Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider , by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols

The American Cider Book , by Vrest Orton

Web Resources

Wittenham Hill Cider Portal

Northern Brewer Homebrew Forum

Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service


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Post a comment below.

 

John
2/11/2014 10:06:13 AM
My recipe is quite simple. Add 9 L apple juice (I buy what's on sale), 9 L of water, 2Kg of water, 2 tablespoons of quick rise yeast. Mix all together in 20 L plastic jug. Put a bubbler on top to keep air out. Set it aside for 60 days. When it's clear, siphon into sealable bottles and enjoy. Haven't had a bad batch in over 16 years. You get 19 L of alcoholic cider for less than $1 a L. Some that I will use around Christmas, I add 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks per bottle. If you have 'deep pockets' you can substitute pure red or white grape juice for the apple juice. Makes a smooth wine.

Bryan Peretto
12/23/2013 7:35:03 AM
While the article is accurate, I can recommend some better routes when choose between the options presented. First, don't use wine (or champagne) yeast- it'll make an already dry product even more dry. Try sweet mead yeast or english ESB yeast (1968 is my new favorite for cider). Cider is fairly low alcohol so you really don't need to make a starter- especially with dry yeast. Don't pasteurize your cider- just put it right into the fermentor and add the yeast. Heating the cider will drive off aromatics. Besides, it's very likely the cider is already pasteurized (hopefully with the UV method). The yeast you add with outcompete any wild yeast. Do NOT use bleach to sanitize. It works, but any residue left behind will taint your hard cider with a chemical/medicinal flavor. And if you do rinse all the bleach out, you're likely just re-introducing bacteria that is likely in your water supply. Use a no-rinse brewing sanitizer like StarSan. Lastly, if you get a plastic fermentor with a valve at the bottom, you can just pour off cider as you want it. It won't be carbonated that way, but it tastes fine and frees you from having to bottle or keg.

WillieB
12/12/2013 5:34:39 PM
Life is good. My only concern is that by today as you probably know, the floor is a mess. The first few days after yeast reproduces foam is heavy. Too late for you, start by freezing a portion of what will be needed to fill a carboy. Use it after foaming subsides to top up.

courtney
12/3/2013 7:56:57 AM
I started my first batch of cider yesterday. It has not begun to bubble yet but shortly after I added the yeast a small foam plug formed at the neck. Normal or nasty?

marianne
10/24/2013 12:29:51 PM
I have a question before i get some hard cider started this weekend. Would it be okay to add mulling spices at the beginning when i heat the cider on the stove? Or would they interfere with the fermenting? I don't know how yeast feels about spices.

Darnoc Funnya
9/4/2013 9:34:04 AM
In my experience this is actually apple wine. Hard cider was made by leaving the apple wine outside on a cold night where the water would rise to the top and freeze,thus "hardening" it. Then the slab of ice is removed leaving behind the "hard" cider. A much stronger and more flavorful drink.

dgray64
9/4/2013 8:48:50 AM
I wish, I wish. Back when I was a child to teen, a hundred years ago, I had an uncle who had a small farm, as well as an outside job. He loved to make wine, hard cider, and apple jack. I never saw how he did it, but in the fall he would make up a batch of brew in wooden kegs with homemade accessories. He would place the kegs, ready to brew in the bottom of his silo and then fill them with silage keeping them at a set temperature and out of reach for nearly a year. When we went to haul hay for him in late summer, the silos would be empty and he'd break out the apple jack. A wonder to behold!!! He made wine from everything from dandelions to tomatoes (good wine, but acidic). I wish I had been able to pay attention...

Lois
7/17/2013 5:23:43 AM

After one week, I had no bubbles coming through my airlock.  I gently swirled the food grade plastic bucket I bought at the brewing store and crazy bubbling through the airlock started splashing out all over the top of the bucket and myself.  I cleaned everything up and swirled a little more.  Then I noticed leaking from the edge of the bucket.  Bottom line, a plastic bucket is not necessarily air tight, so CO2 may leak out the lid rather than the airlock.   This is my first try at fermentation. Lesson one, check.


pamelajporch
4/23/2013 4:37:51 PM

Perfect instructions. I've read other, very complicated instructions, none mentioning the sugar as optional etc. Thank you. I look forward to trying cider from a variety of fruit/berry juices


Daniel Crowe
4/17/2013 3:06:27 AM
Apple Cider Vinegar has a pH of roughly 4 to 5, which is pretty acidic. Human blood norms should be around 7.35 to 7.45 (slightly basic). If you are worried about acids I'd probably lay off the vinegar. That being said healthy humans have all kinds of buffers from metabolic including producing bicarbonate, to simply blowing of CO2 through the respiratory system. If you are worried, just drink more water, pure water should be about a 7 for pH, neutral.

Sean Jordan
3/21/2013 3:02:45 AM
I'm looking for advice from someone who knows both about Home Brewing and the body's own pH levels... Lately, I've been drinking a lot of Raw/Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar, which is great for the body for dozens of reasons. Apples and their byproducts tend to be Medium Alkalizing, or Low Alkalizing if they are sweetened. Alcohol, on the other hand, is generally bad for you in that it is acidogenic. But... If I was to make Hard Cider with Unpasteurized Apple Cider, would that not be Alkalizing and therefore more healthy then just about any other form of alcohol that comes to mind? It would even likely have some Probiotic benefits. I think I'd even Cold Brew this so as to avoid killing off anything in the heat. Thoughts? Is this going to kill me?

Micah O'Dell
2/12/2013 8:39:41 PM
I started two batches just last night and they're really bubbling now. One batch is made with Lalvin champagne yeast and the other is made with a bread yeast. They're both made with two pounds of sugar per 50 oz. of liquid. What can I expect of the ABV?

Mike Habberfield
2/10/2013 1:49:04 AM
gettin ready to start my first brew,after my rookie batch is it possible to mix the fruit say pears and or necterines?

Elaine Harper
9/18/2012 10:14:49 PM
i started e batch of cider and i need to find out more on it turning to viniger because i dont want this to happen way to exitided

Phillip Vaughn
12/30/2011 1:04:24 PM
I just racked off my first batch of hard cider. After fermenting for 9 days the bubbles slowed to approx 1 per minute. I racked this off to age and what I tasted was not "nectar of the gods" It was really kind of tasteless. Did I tie a knot in the dogs tail? or will this become a tasty adult beverage yet?

Jacob Turner
12/1/2011 2:19:29 PM
gregory Giorgio I never had a problem with the extra air in the bucket and I WOULD NOT CHANGE THE WATER IN THE AIR LOCK it will let wild yeast in and you will end up with hard vinegar I use vodka in my air lock it dose not evaporate and leave it a lone let me know how it turns out

GREGORY GIORGIO
10/25/2011 11:39:10 PM
Hi Brian Okay. A week ago I put my first ever batch on doing the following: I crushed 6 Campden tables in a mortar and pestle and added them to my recently pressed 5 gallons of unpasteurized apple cider. It was made from Mutsus, Lady Apples, Golden Delicious and Spygolds. Unsure what the ratio of each was. Left that for 24 hours covered with the must at 68degrees.I then dissolved 2#s of dark brown sugar in a couple of quarts of water on top of the stove, let it cool a bit and stirred it into the must. This brought the temp up to about 76 degrees. I started two packs of Red Star "Cote de Blanc" yeast in a half cup of 100 degree water (per the packet instructions) and stirred it into must. This room is a constant 66 degrees . I am going to move the whole thing downstairs to a room that is closer to 60 degrees in a few more hours. Specific Gravity was 1.055. Right now after six days I am getting a burp about every seven seconds out of the air lock on my bucket. Reasonably vigorous action there I think. I am a little concerned about one thing though; I have since read Ben Watson's book (yes that's right, I read his book IMMEDIATELY AFTER I started my first batch) and he uses a carboy as a primary fermentor and I have used a bucket. My concern is the six or eight inches of air space inbetween the cider and the lid. Watson says this is a no-no. Should I move my beer into a carboy? Leave it alone for a month or so.....He even changes the water in his air-lock. Any ideas?

Matthew Balcer
10/23/2011 5:53:37 PM
I have found that making hard cider can be a great experience…. Here is the sight I get all my stuff from… Mr. Beer Beer of the Month Club Receive everything you need to keep you brewing great tasting beer all year long.

BRIAN JOHNSTON
10/23/2011 6:32:04 AM
Hi Duane, You only need 1 packet of yeast. I used the Llavin champagne yeast, re-hydrated it per the instructions on the packet, and pitched it into the juice. It worked fine to ferment 5 gallons of cider.

Duane Conant
10/20/2011 10:37:04 PM
the ingredients calls for two packets of yeast. The starter requires one packet of yeast. Where and when do you use the second packet of yeast in the 5 gallons of cider?

Miranda Rommel
10/20/2011 4:01:29 PM
I started some cider! We pressed the cider ourselves and I used xsome champagne yeast to get her going. Unfortunately i didn't do the best job of measuring 1 gallon's yeast from a packet of 5 gallons - any idea what will happen to this overly yeasty homebrew? It started bubbling in jus ta few hours, not days. I'm concerned.Check out my blog to see how i did: http://anaustinhomestead.blogspot.com/2011/10/hard-cider-part-1.html Thanks! -Miranda Rommel

GREGORY GIORGIO
10/6/2011 3:07:47 PM
Thanks Brian! I will look for the lozenges. Also I don't consider Woodchuck VERY carbonated, only lightly carbonated which I find perfect. How many lozenges for lightly carbonated? Also I will look for JK's Scrumpy soon! Thanks Again!!

Brian Johnston
9/20/2011 5:18:01 AM
Last year I made my first batch of cider using this recipe. I used the Llavin champagne yeast and did add about 1.5 lbs of brown sugar while simmering. I fermented in a carboy for 2 weeks before transferring to a fermentation bucket for another 3 weeks to let the cider clarify. At bottling I added the sugar priming lozenges to each bottle (2 or 3 to a 22oz. bottle). The resulting carbonation varied, but I found that the longer the bottles sat, the better the carbonation. None had as much carbonation as the commercial ciders, but were pleasently sparkling. Good luck! BTW, the best commercial cider I have had is the JK's Scrumpy Organic.

Gregory Giorgio
9/17/2011 3:30:51 PM
Hi Marc and everybody. I am new to cider making and loved this description of the process. Don't know why I am so timid, I guess I am reluctant to go through the process and not have it exactly the way I like it. One of the things I like about the commercial hard ciders out there (Woodchuck from VT for instance) is that they are LIGHTLY carbonated. Will 3/4 cup priming sugar give me a VERY carbonated cider? If so, what? bring it back to 1/2 cup? Thanks!!!

Max Gulliver
7/6/2011 5:01:46 PM
Also, after fermentation & after it has been bottled and aged for several months, will heating it affect it? I love hot cider in the winter but I don't want to ruin my cider

Max Gulliver
7/6/2011 4:57:36 PM
Thanks so much for getting me started on my new favorite hobby. I'm working on tweaking the recipe, in my newest batch I added raisins, ginger and a few other fresh ingredients that seemed sure to add lots of delicious flavor. I added it when I was simmering the cider before adding yeast, and after tasting it several months later I'm sad to say I can't really taste it at all. Any suggestions? Should I add my special additions at a different time?

george lawall
10/30/2010 2:56:21 AM
thanks a lot, birds had a blast on my scuppernogs and grapes live in apple country and since i haven't made cider the recipes sounds right on the money.

Theresa
10/14/2010 2:03:36 PM
I Loved your artical . thank you for sharing. We have 5 apple trees and they are full this year. some apples have alittle scab and black dots but for the most part are very nice. 2 years ago we took them to be pressed and took 15 gallons before they were pasteuized by heat to make hard cider. We killed the natual yeast and nasties with some kind of tablets the local brew supply gave us and added champaine yeast. it came out very clear, alittle on the dry side but still very good. This year we are going to a diffrent mill that uses UV to pasteuize. Do we still take the cider to be used for hard cider before the UV or is it ok to take it after? and how can we make our hard cider sweeter? I remember last time it bubbled for weeks and I thought if i could have stopped it sooner it would have been alittle sweeter. What would you subjest?

Sarah
10/7/2010 10:45:00 AM
I am excited to try this as we homebrew beer all the time. I just canned a bunch of apple juice - can I use that to make cider? I am not too picky about the cloudiness...

Luna Gardens
9/28/2010 2:02:51 PM
We have apple trees growing on our land which we have not a clue as to what variety. I do not have a recipe/formula for our cider. I just start picking and pressing as soon as the first tree is ripe. We freeze fresh cider to add to our hard cider later on should a batch come out way strong and dry tasting. It makes for an amazing drink! I built our apple press from a shop press for under $120. If you have more then one or two trees, I would advise making a press with the hydraulic jack. Those hand crank screw style (old wood fruit press)ones get old and hard on the arms very quick. I will be refering many blog visitors over to this article. I have had many requests on how to make hard cider and just have not had the time to go through the whole process and remember pictures. :)

Drinker
9/9/2010 2:59:14 PM
Hi! In Central Europe they drink some of the pre-wine rather than bottling it -- it is a juicy, cloudy and delicious drink. My question: Is the cider drinkable at the end of the fermentation process, before the bottling process? Have you tried it?

Siobhan Vila
9/8/2010 3:04:39 PM
I am excited about trying this. All the comments are interesting and good learning tools. I tried to print this article but it cuts off two inches from the right margin and I lose a lot of info. Help?

RADICAL MAMA
9/7/2010 5:22:24 PM
second time today i've been disappointed by seeing pasteurization & store bought yeast used in a recipe. would love to see more on natural fermentations-- cider, mead, sauerkrat, pickles, etc. thanks!

Erin_17
2/24/2010 9:01:44 AM
I am so glad I stumbled across this article! It is the most comprehensive explanation I have been able to find. I can't wait to get my supplies today! Thank you so much!

Curtis_8
12/9/2009 11:49:24 AM
Hey Adam, As I was reading the comments, and I noticed yours, and Yes, what has happend is you put your yeast in the fermentation bucket/carboy way to early, and you have killed your yeast. When it comes to making alcohol, its all about patience. You really need to let the cider get to room temperature. As soon as its at room temperature, you can add your yeast give it a quick stir ( Not to long ) and within a couple of hours your Airlock should start bubbling. Do not forget to put some water in your airlock, or it defeats the purpose of "Bubbling". When I added my yeast, My airlock started bubbling after only a couple hours. If this is not the case with you, give it over night and check it in the morning. By this time your airlock should definately be bubbling. Good luck with your next attempt!

Adam_12
11/12/2009 10:32:54 AM
We followed the directions and the cider is in the carboy but there is no bubbling! It has been 4 days now. One thing that we did incorreclty was add the activated yeast before the cider came to room temperature. I am guesssing it was around 100 F. Could this be the problem. Should I be patient? Or should I crack the container and add more yeast. Please advise.

Barbara Pleasant_3
10/20/2009 7:25:28 PM
Marina, You can ferment apple nectar (thick, cloudy apple juice rendered with heat), to make either cider or wine. It will taste good, but will never really clear because heat sets pectin crystals. Eventually they do seem to form a harmless sediment at the bottom of wine bottles. One of the good things about working with nectar is that it is reasonably sterile if you protect it from contamination until it cools. This makes it possible to ferment into cider or wine without using sulfites, IMHO.

Marina D
9/28/2009 3:39:16 AM
I cooked part of my apples to high, and they became apple sauce, can I still make apple cider?

Tracee
12/2/2008 5:03:23 PM
I started my cider on Saturday, and it looked good Monday. Now one of the containers no longer has foam, but the other does. Should I be concerned? Both were foamy and looking good. Also, my balloons are grapefruit sized now, should I be putting another hole in the balloon? Thanks!

Paul_3
11/7/2008 5:46:39 PM
I prefer to serve it chilled... There are no rules...try it and see what you prefer!

chris_2
11/7/2008 4:51:25 PM
you can ferment less liquid in your primary ferment bucket...and there should be extra room for foam and bubbles. I use a 6 gallon pail. It is really important that if you do a secondary ferment you have as little air as possible between the liquid and the airlock. Iuse glass carboys in 6,5,and 3 gallon sizes. good luck

chris_2
11/7/2008 4:47:42 PM
Kemmer can do the primary ferment in the 5 gallon bucket then syphon into a 3 gallon glass carboy. These are available at wine making supply stores.

kemmer
11/6/2008 11:49:48 PM
Two questions: Can I adjust the ingedients to make 3 gallons instead of 5 and if I decide to do this can I still use a bucket made for 5 gallons? I may want to make 5 gallons in the future. What is the best way to serve it? Chilled or hot?

Paul_3
11/3/2008 5:54:26 AM
David, you had also asked when you can tell if the yeast is dead. You can watch your airlock to see if there is any action and you can also tell by the amount of sediment accumulating on the bottom of the carboy after a clean racking. Again you may have to leave the wine in the carboy a month before noticing the accumulation of sediment/dead yeast when not using potassium sorbate. With the potassium sorbate method it stops the yeast from having the ability to reproduce and ferment. You still need to let the wine sit in the carboy for a couple of weeks after stabalizing and sweetening, before bottling.

Paul_3
11/3/2008 5:45:45 AM
There are two ways to sweeten your wine back. One is to use potassium sorbate (1/2 tsp per gal) along with sulfite (if you want to use sulfites-follow recommendation of supplier). This method stabalizes the wine. This can all be picked up at your local homebrew supply store or online. Ask their advice also. The other method is to gradually sweeten back a little at a time in the carboy, the wine will ferment slightly more, sweeten a little more until the alcohol content is strong enough that the yeast will not be able to tolerate the level. This method is time consuming, you will need to be rack again, and the alcohol content can get slightly out of balance but is a more natural method. The potassium sorbate method is typical of almost all commercial wines from my understanding. The potassium sorbate/sulfite method gives you much more control over the process.

David_5
10/27/2008 4:55:00 PM
This article was very helpful in making my first batch of hard cider. I do have a question though. When siphoning the hard cider from a 5 gallon carboy (1st fermentation) to the 3 gallon carboy for the 2nd fermentation, we tasted the hard cider. It is good, but very dry. I found that adding a sweetener (honey or brown sugar) made it very tasty. Therefore I would like to back-sweeten the hard cider after the 2nd fermentation and before bottling. If I add the honey or brown sugar to the 3 gallon carboy, will fermentation start again? How can I tell if the yeast is “dead”? Thank you for your help.

Paul_3
10/25/2008 10:57:27 PM
I've been homebrewing hard cider for quite a few years. I've tried many tricks with cysers(hard cider made with honey) and other straight hard ciders. I have followed recipes as they are written but of course the fun part is playing with different things on your own. I have added cinnamon sticks, nutmeg (in small spice bags), oak chips, raisins, dates, etc. and in all combination. My favorite combo is honey and brown sugar. I have made a very sweet cyser/cider with 5lbs of honey and 2lbs of brown sugar to 6 gallons of cider. Initially the alcohol was out of balance with a strong burning(hot feel). So today with all the talk about cider and my children and I actually going to participate in a cider pressing today, I had to break out my now two yr old cyser. It is really sweet, dessert wine status, and the alcohol burn has really diminished. Time is a huge factor! Two things I have learned is that maple sugar does not work well and to rack off the lees as soon as possible! You would think the combination of cider and maple would be good but the maple sugar does not ferment well at all! I had to dump 6 gallons of cider. Also leaving the cider on the lees after the primary fermentation quickly imparts some off tastes. Another trick I have done is to sweeten back the cider with an organic concentrated apple juice to give some extra body and nice apple flavor. Use organic and make sure there are no strange additives if you use a standard apple juice concentrate. I have not used it to carbonate, not sure how it would work. The main ingredient in the recipes is to have fun!

Granny Sue
10/21/2008 7:29:07 PM
We made hard cider but it was a lot different process than what you describe. Here's what we did: We made the cider with our press. Strained it into a plastic gallon water jug. Left the lid loose and let the jug sit on the kitchen counter for 3 or 4 days. Put it in the fridge. Took it out a week or so later and tasted it. It was...interesting, but not hard. Left it out at room temp for another day. Put it back in the fridge and waited another week; tasted it again. Awesome! Fizzy, light, a little kick (but not much, I'll admit--just good). I know it won't work every time--we will end up with vinegar sometimes too. But we've got gallons and gallons of cider and this was so easy and so good, I'm willing to gamble and not fuss over airlocks, etc. I doubt early farmers did either. (Course, they all died younger...)

cog_nate
10/10/2008 1:40:00 PM
Hello, amanda. Typically, the packets say that one packet is sufficient to make five gallons of yeast. But dry wine yeast is fairly cheap (typically less than $1/packet) and using two packets has a few advantages: 1) if one of the packets is no good, the other packet should be able to get the job done; 2) two packets will provide, typically, twice the number of viable yeast cells, enabling the yeast to more easily dominate any other microbes in the cider and 3) ferment the cider much more quickly. So, while you can use one packet, I recommend using two per five gallons of cider.

amanda_2
10/9/2008 8:18:31 AM
I noticed that the recipe calls for two packets of yeast. Each package is enough for 5 gallons. Is this correct? Two packets for 5 gallons? Thanks Amanda

Flipflopirate
9/25/2008 11:19:16 AM
I would caution your readers and future cider makers to add a good deal more sugar/honey than recommended in your article. I have been brewing cider for about 5 years now and always underestimate the power of brewing yeast. At least 5 lbs of sugar/honey should be added to a 5 gallon batch and preferably a mixture of both. Don't hesitate to go a little crazy with the ingredients; try adding raisins, honey, nutmeg, molasses, brown, white, or raw cane sugar, each will give you a kaleidoscope of flavors and ultimately give your brew a personal touch. That being said, I would almost always recommend killing off the native yeasts as specific brewing yeasts will leave you with a much more crisp, clean tasting cider in the long run. Have fun, and keep brewing.

gena_2
2/9/2008 1:09:56 PM
Tried my first batch, a little..... dry.

Heidi Hunt_2
1/22/2008 2:38:30 PM
It was a pleasure to read your article on home fermentation as this has been one of my favorite hobbies for a couple of decades. I started home brewing while living in northeast Texas where there are many berry growers and orchards. I would like to add a couple of suggestions. I was glad to see that you emphasize clarification, but when I teach beginners I like to place more emphasis on very careful siphoning to leave the yeast in the bottom. I have come to recognize the taste of yeast and it’s one of the most common mistakes made by beginners who are eager to start drinking their new wine, cider or mead. You have to sacrifice a little to get a better beverage. I must object to your recommendation to use a plastic bucket. I have learned that some plastics will “out-gas” chemicals that are toxic. You’ll need a degree in Chemistry to know exactly which poly-vinyl-blah-blah-blah is safe, so it’s best to stay away from all of them. But I only learned that recently. Early on I learned that the fermentation process of transforming fructose into ethanol includes chemical reactions that actually loosen plastic molecules from inside of the container. It may be the ethanol itself, so it’s best to use glass whenever possible. It’s also easier to sterilize and sanitize glass, as plastic doesn’t’ really stand up to extremely hot water and bleach. It’s also common, when tasting a beginner’s first wine to taste disagreeable “flavor” of plastic contamination. Once it’s in there, no amount of settling and clarifying will ever remove it. The other advantage of using glass is that it’s easier to see the bottom of your siphon hose and know that you’re not transferring the yeast from your fermenter into your storage bottles. This makes the clarification process go more quickly. I recommend to beginners that they start by buying fruit juice in a one gallon glass bottle. Your local wine-maker’s supplier will have a fermentation lock stopper that fits this bot

Andrew_18
12/1/2007 1:52:52 PM
This is 3rd effort at begetting a cider I knew when in Glastonbury England.It was sweet and heavy, at festivals we never needed a tent just a load of jugs of cider around a large fire we would pass the jugs and then ultimately pass out with little or no hangovers . This latest effort is 6 galls unpastuerised Connecticut cider after racking is now 5 galls. OG was 1.045 now at FG is 1,000 [ way too dry ] and as hazy as a Montreal morning on a cold winters day.I will boil some Irish Moss with some of the mother brew to clear But how do I sweeten the batch ? Splendor ?? Honey Yumm corn sugar / brown sugar --how much when? Sorry to whimp out on this but this effort needs some help Cheers from a scouse Brit Dec 1st 07 Andrew

matt_15
10/23/2007 10:48:02 PM
hey thanks for all the great info. i just got my cider and yeast and its been bubbling away for about a week now, i'm estatic to see what i can make!

cog_nate
10/11/2007 1:26:34 PM
Marc- Author of the article here. Thanks for your feedback. Regarding priming with cider, I've done it before and it works OK. Using a quart to prime five gallons, however, is really too much. Eight fluid ounces (twelve, tops) of heat-treated juice or cider should be plenty to get the batch sparkling. Regarding using unheated cider to prime and the spoilage conditions in fermented cider, I have to disagree. Acetobacter, if given an opportunity, will definitely establish itself in finished cider. In fact, acetobacter prefer that environment because they ferment the alcohol into acetic acid -- vinegar. Acetobacter also require some oxygen to live, but even the little bit of oxygen in the headspace of bottles is enough to get a bacterial infection going if you've inoculated the finished cider with unsanitary priming solution. To me, it's not worth the risk.

bmathews02
10/9/2007 8:48:03 PM
thank you for sharing the apple cider info. We usually have a good apple crop in arkansas so I am going to be on the lookout for the next roadside Cider stand so I can get started.

Marc_6
10/2/2007 10:07:01 AM
rather than carbonate with sugar, why not just use a quart of fresh cider (ideally filtered through cheesecloth). The sugars will be fermented the same and you'll get more "fresh apple" flavor. You could treat that cider with the same "heat but don't boil" approach, but after fermentation the conditions in the cider are not really suitable for spoilage bacteria. Wild yeasts could still be an issue.








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