Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easy Hard Cider

Because I prudently fear the collapse of civilization, and I like my libations, over the years I've learned how to make beer, wine, brandy, and my current favorite, hard cider.  While making it, or indeed any of the brews I've listed, from scratch is much more difficult and time intensive, a very easy way to get started making hard cider is to use organic apple juice that is free of preservatives.  The preservatives will stall out the fermentation process, so, no.
All you'll need is: 
A gallon glass jug.
An air lock
Stock pot
Wooden spoon
1 gallon of organic apple juice
3-6 cups of sugar
Dry white wine or champagne yeast
4 1-quart bottles with hinged rubber stoppers

I use an old wine jug.  I bored a hole in the metal cap and fitted it with an air lock, then I beaded silicone around where the air lock goes in, on both the top and bottom of the cap.  So far this has proven to be airtight.
To get started with the apple juice, heat about 1/2 a gallon of it in a pot, just hot enough to dissolve all of the sugar.  You can use granulated white sugar for a paler finished product, or brown sugar for a darker one.  Or, you can try a combination of the two.  I don't care for the color or the taste of the brown sugar cider, so I only use granulated white sugar in the process, and I only put in 3C of it because otherwise it comes out too sweet.  The alcohol content does not suffer with the lower sugar, at least it doesn't seem to.  You can tinker with it to discover your own preference.
After the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the stove and add the rest of the apple juice, reserving about 2 cups.  In 1/4C of warm water activate 1/2 teaspoon of yeast.   Using a funnel, pour the sweetened apple juice in the jug, and then add some of the reserve apple juice, careful to leave some room for the yeast liquid and an additional two inches from the top of the bottle.  Add the yeast, screw the cap + airlock on top, set in a cool, somewhat dark area, a basement or closet is ideal, and then wait.  When the cider stops emitting bubbles up through the airlock - or the process has slowed to a bubble every minute or more, typically two weeks to a month, the cider is ready to be bottled, or racked.  For this I use 1 quart bottles with hinged rubber stoppers because they don't explode and they keep the cider's natural effervescence, which is wonderful on a hot day.
Good luck!

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