Hard cider is so easy to make, you might wonder why you ever bought it at a liquor store.
The first step is to find organic apple juice/cider. It’s important that the juice is organic. You want it to be pasteurized but preservatives will kill the yeast. If you go to Whole Foods, you can find organic apple cider in a 1 gallon glass jug. It’s like they’re daring you to ferment it!
When Barley’s opens (in January 2013) you can come down and pick up the following items
- Fermentation air lock (That’s the thing on the top of the glass jug in the photo. It lets CO2 escape while keeping O2 and undesirable microorganisms out of the fermenting product) NEVER FERMENT ANYTHING IN A SEALED CONTAINER. The pressure build-up will cause it to explode
- Rubber stopper (bung)
- Hydrometer (measure’s specific gravity, allowing you to determine alcohol content) and testing jar
- A funnel
- Sanitizing powder (One Step) or solution (Star San)
- Yeast. For hard cider, I would recommend a champagne yeast (Lalvin EC-1118 worked great for me).
- Dextrose (corn sugar)
- Swing-top bottles are the best, if you don’t have any, you might want to get some. Otherwise, you’ll need a capper and some O2 absorbing crown caps. PET (plastic) bottles will also work. Don’t use wine bottle, they are not designed to hold pressure.
Be sure to practice proper sanitation technique!
1. Pour out 250 ml of juice from the jug into a sanitized liquid measuring cup (save for later) and add 250 ml of white sugar or dextrose (corn sugar) into the jug using a funnel. The extra sugar increases the alcohol content of the cider and gives a drier (not sweeter!) flavour. Seal with the lid and shake well (30 seconds) to mix in the sugar and aerate, which will be good for the yeast.
2. Take a hydrometer reading for original gravity.
3. Pour in the yeast (You can use half a pack and save the other half in the fridge for the next batch if you want but the extra yeast won’t hurt). Seal, shake again to distribute.
4. Using the apple juices you had poured out in step 1, top up the jug to it’s “shoulder” leaving a couple of inches of air space.
5. Fill fermentation lock with water and cork it into the opening of the jug using the rubber stopper. Store the jug in a cool dark place.
Within 24 hours, you’ll notice signs of fermentation. Allow it to ferment for at least two weeks (probably 3 to 4 weeks). When fermentation has ceased, proceed to the next step.
6. Rack (transfer) the cider from the jug into a sanitized pail or large saucepan using a siphon. Leave the sediment behind.
7. Take a hydrometer reading for final gravity (should be around 1.010 or less).
8. Add and mix 25 ml of dextrose. This will allow your cider to carbonate in the bottles.
9. Siphon into sanitized bottles, cap and let sit for 2 weeks to allow for carbonation. Hard cider will benefit from a few extra weeks (or months) of aging.
Easy! Get a few of these on the go at a time or transfer 6 of them into a 23L carboy to increase your hard cider output. Adjust sugar quantity accordingly.