Making hard apple cider at home is a time-honored tradition. It has been popular since colonial days as a way to preserve the apple harvest. This carbonated hard apple cider recipe offers an interesting twist to traditional non-carbonated cider.
Important Pioneer Dad tip. Brew Guys: most women seem to prefer the carbonated cider.
Yields 1-gallon of carbonated cider
1-gallon glass jug of unfiltered apple juice
3 grams (3/4 teaspoon) dry ale yeast
54 grams (2-ounces by weight) of honey
2-gallon glass carboy or food safe bucket
9 12-ounce glass beer bottles
#6 rubber stopper with air lock
1 tablespoon unscented bleach
Brewing better hard cider
Start with high-quality organic apple juice, not the bargain apple juice. If full-bodied flavors are not present in the juice, they will not be in the final hard cider. Avoid any juice saturated with sweeteners, preservatives, or un-pronounceable chemicals.
Dry ale yeast will produce a hard cider with 9% alcohol and good apple flavor. Switching to Champaign yeast will produce a cider at 14-15% alcohol. Start with the ale yeast then experiment with the higher yield yeasts later.
It is possible to brew with wild yeast, which occurs naturally, in apple juice and fruit. But understand that wild yeasts take 2-3-months to completely brew. Wild yeasts tend to be “less than predictable” from batch to batch. For brewing repeatability, commercial brewing yeasts will yield more consistent flavors and alcohol levels.
Using honey instead of sugar gives the cider a rounder more pleasing flavor. Honey is consumed slower by yeast. So expect better carbonation over time with honey.
Brewing temperatures tend to be somewhat forgiving. You can brew at 65 to 85-degrees but 70-degrees will give the best results. Brewing close to that temperature will yield the best cider. In the fall brew in the basement or garage. My summer brewing is done in a cast iron bathtub where the ambient temperature is a steady 68 to 70-degrees.
Sanitize everything carefully. Contamination and bacteria can cause cider to go bad or turn to vinegar.
Look to local brewing shops for supplies and equipment mentioned. I’ve found it useful to talk to the Brew Master at my local brewing shop for tips on which supplies and equipment work best and are trouble free.
1. Open the apple juice and pour out 1-cup of juice. Consume or save for another purpose.
2. Recap the jug and shake for 1-minute to oxygenate the juice.
3. Add 3 grams (3/4 teaspoon) of dry yeast to the jug.
4. Dilute 2-oz. of bleach in 1-gallon of water to make the sanitizing solution. Use a large pot or bucket. Dip the rubber stopper and air lock into the solution. Then insert into the glass jug.
5. Store the cider in a warm place to ferment. 70-degrees is the desired temperature. Keep it constant.
6. Fermentation will take 2 to 3 weeks. After two days, there should be bubbles forming on the surface of the cider.
7. When no new bubbles are forming in the jug, rack off or siphon into a sanitized 2-gallon food safe container or carboy.
8. Bring 1-pint of water to a boil and add 54 grams (2-ounces by weight) of honey. Stir well to dissolve the honey.
9. Pour the honey solution into the cider and stir well without splashing.
11. Store the bottles in a dark place at 75-degrees where the temperature will remain stable for five days. This give the cider time to carbonate in the bottles.
12. Transfer the bottles to a refrigerator and let them age for about 2-weeks. Then enjoy!
For brewing non-carbonated hard cider, go to: http://www.pioneerdad.com/preserve/brewing/brewing-hard-apple-cider/