About three weeks ago, I picked up a gallon of unpasteurized, preservative free apple cider with the plan to make hard apple cider. I had researched a few recipes and the husband had a beer brewing kit that had been collecting dust in my basement for six years so I decided to go for broke and learn how to brew.
We are lucky enough to have a home-brew store less than a mile from our house. I took the beer kit and my research into the store and asked for help. I was there for two hours. I learned more than I could have imagined! The gentleman in the store has a degree in wine making and he was so patient with all of my questions. I ended up spending $ 31.00 on additional equipment, all of which can be used again with the exception of the yeast.
Making hard cider is a ridiculously easy thing to do, it just takes some equipment and patience.
First you measure the sugar content of your cider and add either white or brown sugar until you reach 16 brix of sugar. You add your yeast, stir and let rest for 24 hours.
You need to check the sugar content of your cider daily, you will hear the CO2 escaping via the bubbler. Once the sugar content reaches 2 brix, you need to stop the fermentation process. I used potassium metabisulfite and then potassium sorbate to ensure there wouldn’t be further fermentation once I bottled the finished product.
I learned that the product you use to clear you cider is made from shellfish shells so I couldn’t use that, I had to do it the old-fashioned way and wait! It only took a day for the cider to clear and it is sitting in this glass gallon jar in my fridge. I have been sharing it with family and friends. Now that I have one gallon under my belt I will be working on a five gallon batch in November that should be ready in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The most important thing to remember is that all of your equipment mush be sterilized before using, other than that it is a truly simple process and man are we enjoying tasting our first batch!