Friends of ours introduced us to their homemade hard apple cider last year and we thought it was one of the greatest things ever and just had to give it a try. This coincided perfectly with a use for the home brew equipment I had gotten my husband for his birthday 2 years ago that was patiently waiting for use in the closet. It is such an easy (and cheap!) process that we’re kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner.
- Make sure your carboy is totally sanitized, as well as any equipment that comes in contact with your product or process.
- Add 5 gallons of apple juice. Just juice. No preservatives or additions. If the ingredients say anything other than ‘apple’ pass it by. ($16-$18 for all 5 gallons at Costco)
- We add 4 1/2 pounds of sugar to our brew (the more sugar, the dryer it will be, but also a higher alcohol content) in the carboy ($11 for a bag or organic cane sugar – at Costco)
- Add your yeast (ask your local brew person what they suggest and experiment. Avoid champagne yeast unless you like cider so dry your mouth implodes) ($8)
- Cap your carboy with your air-lock and set aside in closet, or space away from sunlight
The second or third day of the brew are lovingly referred to as “Egg Fart Days” in our house as the brew will give off a very strong sulfur odor. You aren’t doing anything wrong – it’s just the yeast having a pep rally and getting ready to feast on some sugar. You will notice that your air lock will also be bubbling like crazy during this time – feel free to cheer it on! I find it makes for better brew.
Your cider is done brewing when the time between bubbles in your air lock is at least a full minute. If you pull it too early your brew will be “green” and not good. Read: you might as well drink it on the toilet and cancel your plans to leave the house for the next few days. This first stage can take over a month for your first brew on a new batch of yeast, but will speed up as you reuse the yeast cake (up to 7 times) to 2 weeks or so.
At this stage siphon your brew to another sterilized container where you can choose to recap with another air lock, or bottle. We are more than happy to drink ‘flat’ cider so we skip the bottling process and keep it in a different carboy, pouring into a pitcher to refrigerate before consuming. So with a brand new brew in hand, we start the process all over again (minus the yeast because the cake is still in your equipment) by adding juice and sugar. Cap, replace in the closet and wait for the Egg Fart Days to be over. Feel free to discuss how you are about to get approximately 5 gallons of high octane cider for a less than $30 investment – that’s always pretty cool.
(porter on the left, cider on the right)