Now that me having two jobs and walking to work, I’ve been able to read substantially more than I have in the most recent years (not counting school books, of course). I’ve subscribed to a few new magazines, both of which I have to say that I really enjoy. Those magazines are Mother Earth News and Countryside Living and Small Stock Journal. I’ve been waiting to try out ideas in most of the issues i’ve gotten because they require more land than I currently have, or are not relevant to my current situation (like a wood stove). Once I found an article on how to make homemade hard apple cider from Mother Earth News (here), I knew I had to give it a whirl. Here’s how it’s done:
First, you’ll need two categories of things – some food items for the cider, and some homebrewing items for the processing and storage of your cider (unless you try to drink it all at once, which for the record is something I suggest you do not attempt).
For the food ingredients, you’ll need:
- Apple cider with out preservatives (If it has sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate, it wont work)
- Brown Sugar or Honey – Optional, to increase alcohol content
- Wine Yeast (I used a dry wine yeast recommended by the guy at my local homebrew shop)
- Large cooking pot (this recipe produces 5 gallons – I had to use my 3 gallon pot and heat 2 portions)
- Carboy – basically a large glass or plastic jug to store the cider in while it’s fermenting (I borrowed this)
- Bubbler – I borrowed this from a friend too
- Bottles or some other storage container
- Bottle capper – borrowed from a friend
- Caps – if you’re using bottles
- Corn sugar/honey – not necessary, but is if you want your cider carbonated
- Bottle filler/siphon - clear plastic tubing will work
To get yourself started, you’ll need your large cooking pot and your cider. What you’ll need to do is put all of your cider into the pot (or as much as can fit) and heat. If you’re adding brown sugar or honey for extra alcohol content at the end, this is the time to do it. It’s about .4 lb of sugar or honey per gallon. I made 5 gallons of cider, so I put 2 lbs of sugar in. Of course, the pot I was using at the time was too small, so I had to heat in 2 batches of about 2.5 gallons each time. You warm up your cider on the oven for about 45 minutes, then put it in the carboy. You’ll need to do this twice if your pot isnt big enough for all 5 gallons like I did. You can get some pretty large pots for cheap these days – I wont be using this method next time as I now am the proud owner of a turkey deep fryer kit, which is what i’ll be using for this (and brewing) from here on out.
Once you’ve got the cider into the car boy, you’ll need to bring the temperature down so that you dont kill the yeast. Once the cider is cool to room temperature, you can go ahead and “pitch” your yeast (this means toss it in the carboy). Stir your mixture a bit and then put the airlock on. Once this is done, the first part of the cider making is done. After this, let it sit in a temperature controlled room out of the light. The yeast will get to work, and you’ll start to see bubbles leaving the airlock (this is the yeast eating the sugars, making alcohol). Below is a picture of the fermenting process.
After a few weeks, the yeast will have run out of sugars to eat and start to sink to the bottom. Once this happens you can let the cider sit for a while for the yeast to continue to settle so that you dont get a bunch of yeast into your bottles.
Sanitize your bottles and cover the tops with a bit of foil so nothing falls into them [you can get sanitizer at a brew shop,
or just use a bit of bleach]. As you’re ready to start bottling, you pour in 3/4 cup of corn sugar for carbonation [put this in your fermentation pail, before bottling] (this is optional), and if you dont do it the cider will still taste just fine. Swirl the corn sugar around, and then you’re ready to bottle. Id suggest putting down a towel to absorb the spills that will happen. Start your syphon, and fill each bottle, cap it, and move on to the next one. I got 22 ounce bottles (bombers) and filled 24 completely and had about 3 pints left over, which I drank that night. Once the bottling is done, let the corn sugar and the last bits of yeast do their work and carbonate the bottles. They should be ready after about 2 weeks. I left mine for around a month because of the holidays.
Once you’ve got all this done you can enjoy your cider! Dont toss those bottles in the recycling bin though, you can reuse them for you next brewing project.
Readers: Do you brew beer or cider at home? Are you interested in it at all, or is this something that’s not really for you? It honestly really wasnt as difficult as I thought it’d be, but you do need to make sure you have all the equipment.