Make your own homemade hard apple cider with just a few items and a gallon of apple juice.
There is nothing quite like the taste of a good hard cider.
- 100% pure apple juice with no preservatives
- Sugar (optional)
- Air lock or balloon
- Barrel bungs for air locks
- 1 gallon container – the container apple juice comes in is fine.
Selecting the apple juice you use for making cider is a huge deciding factor in if this will work properly. It must be 100% preservative free apple juice. If it has any preservatives in it at all it will kill the yeast off. Check the label specifically for potassium sulfate or sodium benzoate, these two are your main worries in grocery bought apple juice.
There are many different types of yeast. The main two that I use and work well for these gallon jugs of hard cider are champagne yeast or red wine yeast. Which you pick will affect the flavor: champagne yeast will put out a dryer, bitter taste like traditional cider, while red wine yeast will make a sweeter tasting cider.
Once you gather your ingredients and select your yeast it is extremely simple to get your hard cider moving. Just follow the simple steps below and you will be on your way to creating your first batch.
What to do:
1. Pour a small amount of apple juice out of the container into a separate container or glass to make some head room for your yeast.
2. Pour some warm water into a small container and gently pour your packet of yeast into it. Give it a gentle swirl and let it sit for a few minutes. This will awaken your yeast and get them ready for action. While you are waiting put you cap back on the container and shake it vigorously. This will give your juice a small oxygen boost for the yeast.
3. At this point, if you want a higher alcohol percentage, you will want to dissolve about a half cup of sugar into some water. Add it into the container before you pour your yeast in. The extra sugar will give the yeast a little more to munch on before they start petering out.
4. Now, you are all done and are ready to air your air lock. This will allow air to escape, but keep air from coming in which is very important for creating alcohol. You have two options here: A balloon or a store bought air lock.
- Balloons are perfect for small batch making operations. Just poke a few holes into the top of it with a needle and stretch it over the mouth of your container.
- Air locks require just a tinge more effort. You will need to find a bung to slide into the mouth of the container to seal it off. Then your air lock will slide into the hole that is in the center of the bung. Fill the top of the lock with some water to the fill line. This will let Co2 bubble out in a more visible manner.
After your air lock is in place you will want to place your batch of awaiting cider into a warm, dark area. I usually stick mine in my hall closet and let them go. After a few hours they will begin to cloud up, like the picture below, and bubbles will be rushing to the surface as they yeast eat up the sugars in the juice.
When the cider clears and the bubbles stop you cider is ready to be moved into a new container. This can be done with a siphon. From there you can leave them in the gallon containers to consume or bottle them up to pass out to friends at your next party.
The best part about these small 1 gallon batches is they generally take about two to three weeks before they are ready to consume. You can even get more creative and experimental if you want by adding other fruits into the mix for additional flavor.
All photos provided by Alex Burton.