As with all my home “brew” recipes this one for Hard Apple Cider is a very basic recipe. Serious aficionados will have much more sophisticated ways of going about it. Using named yeast strains instead of bread yeasts will give you a much better product with a repeatable taste.
Typically, American’s consider cider to be unfiltered apple juice. Consequently, hard cider is alcoholic. Most everywhere else, cider is fermented apple juice.
Today we will be making hard cider from store-bought ingredients, when the apple trees start producing, I plan on showing the process from tree to tap…
- One gallon of cider. Organic is preferred as preservatives will interfere with the fermentation process
- One can of 100% apple juice concentrate, once again try to find one without sulfates.
- Yeast. Available at any brewing store. Look for a wine or champagne strand. I used Lavin (the number escapes me). You can use bread yeast but you may not get the same quality of final product.
- Large pot, two gallon minimum
- Candy thermometer
- Plastic spoon
- Sanitizer (Unscented bleach will work for now)
- Rubber stopper and airlock to fit the gallon jug (Available at any brewing store)
- Sanitize all your equipment. This is the most important step. Bacterias and mold can kill your project quickly. Sanitize by mixing a ratio of one tablespoon of bleach per one gallon of water. Submerge your equipment, in a clean sink or bathtub. Let the materials sit for 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
- Heat up one gallon of organic apple juice on the stove. You want to keep it just below boiling for a few minutes. This is known as pasteurization and kills off any contaminants without burning off the sugars that flavor the cider and provide food for the yeast.
- Next, cover the cider and allow to cool. While it is cooling, follow the directions on whichever yeast you have selected to reconstitute it. When the juice has cooled to the temperature listed on the yeast packet, pitch in the yeast, cap the bottle and shake vigorously to introduce air into the mixture.
- Lastly, cap the bottle with the stopper and airlock. Make sure to fill the airlock with either water or vodka so carbon dioxide can be released without allowing contaminants in.
- Wait about six weeks. You will see bubbles in about 24 hours coming from the airlock.
- After six weeks, Siphon off the cider into a pot and clean out the inside of the jug. The slurry at the bottom of the jug is dead yeast and other materials that have settled.
- Taste the cider, if it tastes good to you, rebottle it and put it into your fridge. If it is too dry, try sweetening it with the apple juice concentrate. Heat up the cider on the stove and add the concentrate until the desired flavor is achieved. If you have not added wine-making chemicals (such as sulfates) to kill the yeast, you must keep this cold, otherwise, the yeast will eat the sugar and produce CO2, which can cause your bottle to explode.
- Finally, the cider is ready to drink at this point. If you are patient, the flavor will improve over time and the cider will start to become clearer in the fridge.