Making Hard Cider
Brewing your own alcohol is not only fun and easy but saves you a lot of money and is better for the environment. With a modest upfront investment (around $100 for equipment, ingredients and bottles) you can make 5 gallons of hard cider. After the initial investment you will probably pay at most $30 per batch. The environment benefits as well because you buy the heaviest ingredient, apple juice, locally. You can even reuse beer bottles that would otherwise end up being recycled or in a landfill (as long as they are not screw-top bottles and have been thoroughly sanitized).
How to Make Hard Cider
1. Find the Ingredients
Choose Your Juice – I recommend getting the juice fresh from the press but if you don’t want to travel out that far you can use cider from the grocery store. Make sure that the juice contains no chemical preservatives.
Choose Your Yeast – There are specialized liquid yeast packs for fermenting cider but dry wine yeasts work just as well and are much cheaper.
2. Start Brewing
Pour your cider into a brewpot or a large stockpot and simmer it over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Do not let the cider boil, this will result in a hazy end product.
Next, pour the cider into a sanitized fermentation bucket, let the cider cool to nearly room temperature (this will take a few hours), then add your yeast. 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. Let it ferment. Within a day or two you should see the airlock start to bubble. 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.
3. Bottle the Cider
You can find all of the brewing equipment that you need locally at Beer Necessities in Alpharetta. The staff will also answer any questions that you have.
For complete instructions on brewing hard cider please read the following article:
Mother Earth News – Make Your Own Hard Cider
Photo credit: Preben Hansen