Homemade Hard Cider
By Hauntmaster 11-01-2001
It's fall again, time to reap what we've sown or at least what our
farmer friends have sown. In many parts of the Bay Area this means
apples and plenty of them. But what to do with all those apples? Well
you could eat them one by one, make some pies, bake a few for dessert,
or why not make some delicious hard cider. Hard Cider you ask? Yeppers,
it's easy, inexpensive, and best of all legal!
The art of cider making can be as simple or as complex as you want.
What we are going to teach you is how to make the most simple and
consistent cider in your own home. There wont be a lot of fancy
equipment, extra steps, or needless technical jargon. Here is what
you need to make five gallons of cider.
5 gallons of apple juice
2x 5 gallon food grade container (fermenter)
Tubing ~ 4 ft.
Bottle filler or tube clamp
Cane Sugar or equivalent (if sparkling cider is desired)
48 - 55 12 oz Bottles or equivalent
Ok, here is what you do, get juice, add yeast, and wait! No,
seriously that's all there is to it. Ok, well, for those of you who need
a little more instruction here are the step by steps. If you want to
print the instructions out here is a printable
- Of course the very first thing you'll want to do is to is gather
together all the items we've suggested from the list above. If you
need more help with a particular item you can click on it to get a
pop-up with more information.
- Make sure your apple juice is at room temperature and start
preparing your yeast according to the manufacturers directions. If
you are using dry yeast now is the time to re-hydrate it, if you use
a "smack pack" style yeast you can break the inner seal,
and if using a pitchable tube allow to warm to room temp.
- Now you need to wash and sanitize everything that will come into
contact with the cider. Thoroughly wash your fermenter and airlock
with detergent and rinse well. Sanitize according to your sanitizers
instructions. Remember, sanitizers can't sanitize a dirty container.
- Add apple juice to your container making sure to aerate well.
Splashing the juice incorporates air into the liquid for the benefit
of the yeast.
- Add (pitch) yeast to the fermenter.
- Place lid on container and add airlock with a little water in it.
- Place your container in a spot where the temperature will remain
consistently in the mid to high 60's. The ideal temperature will
depend on your choice of yeast but all yeasts will work in this
- When bubbling in you fermenter has stopped completely, usually in
a week or two, you have cider and it's time to bottle! It's very
important that you make sure all bubbling has stopped. Bottling
still fermenting cider is potentially dangerous. When in doubt wait
- Clean and sanitize your second container and your tubing as you
did for your fermenter. If you plan on using a bottle filler you
will need to sanitize this as well. You will also need to clean and
sanitize your bottles. Bottle caps need only to be sanitized.
- Siphon (rack) your cider to the sanitized container being careful
not to splash the cider nor disturb or pick up the layer of yeast on
the bottom of your fermenter.
- Now if you want sparkling cider you will need to add 3/4 cup corn
sugar to the cider. This is to give the yeast a little extra sugar
to produce carbonation. If you like still cider you simply omit the
- Siphon your cider into the sanitized bottles leaving approx.
1" of headspace at the top of each bottle. Cap and store in a
warm place for one or two weeks to allow the yeast time to carbonate
- Uncap a few bottles and enjoy! Try to keep a few bottles around
for ageing. Cider ages well and flavors will blend and mellow over
time. A cool, dark, interior closet makes a perfect place to store
you've tried making a couple of batches of apple cider you can start to
experiment. How about a subtly refreshing Perry? Perry is made from pear
juice and can be made using the same procedure as above. If you don't
have access to traditional perry pears or their juice you can add a
small amount of grape tannin to give a slight puckering sensation.
Or how about flavoring your apple cider with other fruits? Raspberry?
To the left is a three gallon batch of Apple Cherry Cider. It's made
from two gallons of apple and a gallon of cherry farm fresh juice. Note,
the extra space between the top of the liquid and the top of the
container is allowable during primary fermentation only. If you want to
age your cider in bulk you want as little air-space as possible between
the top of the cider and the bottom of your air lock. You can accomplish
this by either racking your cider to a smaller container or topping-up
your fermenter with fresh juice.
Whatever you try, it's a good idea to take detailed notes on
everything you've done to make your cider so you can repeat it in the
future. I keep a notebook with notes on every batch I've made. Not only
has it helped me keep track of my favorite recipes but it's a valuable
resource for when things go wrong.
San Francisco Brewcraft
San Francisco CA 94118
Both of these businesses sell everything
you need (except juice) to make cider at home. Although Haunted
Bay is not in anyway affiliated with them, we have been happy
customers for many years and do not hesitate to recommend them.