How to make cider

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How to Make Cider

Around Autumn time there are always plenty of people watching their apple trees laden with fruit, some fallen on the ground, far more than any family could eat, who start wondering about the waste and thinking "if only I knew how to make cider". How hard can it be?

This page is for those who might like to try making a gallon or two of homemade cider, just to see what it's like. It's always possible to make things more complicated, and we have a series of pages about cider making which can always be consulted later on (and contributed to) but the main thing is to get started with some basic principles and learn how to make cider in a home kitchen or utility room.

Ingredients needed to make cider

Apples

The only ingredient needed to get started making cider is apples. Good apples, ripe and in a reasonably clean condition, preferably a mixture of different varieties including some cider apples or crab apples. A mixture of eating apples and some cookers will also make an acceptable cider.

Campden Tablets or Sulphite

Big traditional cider makers in some parts of the country can get away without using any sulphite or yeast, making pure natural cider out of nothing but apple juice. But that's because they know they have a good build up of the right kind of yeasts in their orchards, apples and cider making equipment and barrels.

Starting from scratch you will probably need a few Campden tablets to kill off any bad microorganisms and make space for an added yeast.

Yeast

White wine yeast from a homebrew supplier makes good homemade cider.

Making Cider is not like Country Wine

Some people will think they already know how to make cider because they've made country wines or beer, which is good because they'll already have most of the equipment needed. Unfortunately this can also lead to an incorrect assumption about the best way to make cider which they might think involves using the apple juice to flavour a quantity of boiled water with a bag of suger added. In cidermaking, the sugar should all come from the apple juice and without any dilution. Yes, you are going to need a gallon or two of fresh apple juice. The apple juice should not be boiled or heated.

How to make apple juice

So now we understand that cider is simply fermented apple juice, and have gathered enough apples to make a first batch of cider, the question is how to turn the apples into juice. A domestic juice extractor will grate pieces of apples and extract some of the juice by centrifuge, all in one process but only very small quantities at a time, and with a lot of clogging and cleaning in between cupfulls. The next step up is to crush the apples in a bucket with a heavy boshing stick, like a large pestle and mortar, and then press the pulp in a small table top domestic fruit press. And that's as far as we go on this page. If you get caught by the cider making bug, then next year you might build or buy some bigger equipment like a homemade cider press and scratter

Fermenting the apple juice

Left to itself, and not too cold, the apple juice will probably start fermenting by itself but the safer method is to add a small amount of sulphite to subdue any wild micro organisms and then introduce a selected yeast that has been activated. From this point onwards it's just a matter of allowing the fermentation to proceed slowly, keeping fresh air out of the container in which the cider is fermented and stored. Once the airlock stops bubbling, keep the cider for a few months and then decant into containers for drinking.

Medium and Sweet Cider

A bone dry cider that has fully fermented out is an acquired taste perhaps, and certainly favoured by many but medium and sweet ciders are in high demand also. There are to ways to end up with a sweeter cider:

Adding Sweetner to finished cider

Sugar, apple juice or saccharin may be added to finished cider prior to drinking in order to sweeten the taste. If sugar or apple juice are used, then the cider if stored may start to ferment again so it's importat not to put sweetened cider into bottles unless you are absolutely sure they are strong enough to take the potential pressure of C02 produced from the amount of sugar added.

Keeving

Keeving is the art of trying to slow or stop fermentation so that natural fruit sugars remain in the cider.


How to make Cider Videos

This one show a very basic overview of how to make cider using a small bottle jack press with a wooden drum. Of course, this is just the production of apple juice, the fermentation of the juice into cider is the next stage.


A new video How to make home made cider with BrayOak Cider using a scissors style car jack and single cheese