Hard apple cider has been popular since Colonial times. Pioneer Dad’s recipe is not quite that old. We’ve been brewing this for three years and this hard apple cider recipe just keeps getting better each year.
Yields 5-gallons of cider
Ingredients for hard apple cider recipe
5-gallons unfiltered apple juice
10 grams (0.176 oz.) Lavin K1-V1116 or Wyeast 4766 Cider yeast
Camden tablets (25 tablet pack)
Pectic enzyme (clarifier)
5-gallon glass carboy
5-gallon food safe bucket with lid
Bottle brush (for cleaning)
3 to 6-feet of 5/16 food-safe tubing
20 750 ml glass wine bottles
Rubber Carboy stopper with air lock
Star San, or Idophor sanitizer (for sterilizing)
Corking machine (rent or buy)
Here’s how to get started.
1. The best apples
If you’re fortunate to have an apple tree in the yard, begin with that variety of apple. Choose the healthiest ripe apples. Discard any apples that are battered, bruised or have fallen on the ground. Fallen or bruised apples can contaminate the cider and quickly turn it to vinegar.
If purchasing apples, visit a local farmer’s market. Red Delicious and Fuji make a sweeter cider. Granny Smith and Macintosh apples will yield a tart cider.
2. Press or juice
Wash all apples thoroughly to remove any dirt, insect, pesticides or sprays.
Use an apple crusher and press, or use a heavy-duty kitchen blender. My favorite is a high-powered juicer like the Breville Ikon, a 900-watt countertop monster. It will juice anything leaving only a dry apple pulp as waste.
3. Brewing hard apple cider
Fill the 5-gallon carboy with 4.75-gallons of cider. If pressing cider: spread several layers of cheesecloth over a large funnel and a gallon jug. Pour the cider into the cheesecloth to strain out any leftover pulp. The cheesecloth acts as a strainer. Juice filters through the cloth and the pulp stays in the cheesecloth.
Add the yeast, two packets or 10 grams. Re-hydrate the dry yeast in warm water (95-105°F) and then proof the yeast by adding 1-Tablespoon of sugar to confirm it is alive. The yeast should start bubbling after 20-minutes. If alive, add it to the cider.
Add 5-tsp. yeast nutrient to the cider.
Add 48-ounces of honey and mix well.
Fermentation will take 4 to 6 weeks. After two days, there should be bubbles actively forming on the surface of the cider. Keep the cider in a dark place to prevent it from darkening during the brewing process. Or, bag the carboy with a simple paper grocery bag.
When no new bubbles are forming in the carboy, rack off or siphon into a sanitized 5-gallon food safe container or another carboy.
Kill off any residual yeast by adding another 5-crushed Camden tablets to the cider. Wait 24 hours before proceeding.
Siphon into wine bottles and cork. 5-gallons of cider will fill about 18 to 20 750ml wine bottles.
Store the cider for 2-months then enjoy.
Cider should be stored in a cool, dark place such as a basement or kitchen cabinet.
A bottle of hard cider is a great gift idea. Name your cider and add a label or tag for a unique holiday gift.
For information on brewing carbonated cider go to: http://www.pioneerdad.com/preserve/brewing/brewing-carbonated-hard-apple-cider/