If you enjoy the taste of hard apple cider and want to brew a batch at home, the process is simple and fun. You can make your own homemade hard cider by using store bought apple juice in place of juice that has been made fresh at a mill. If you choose to use store bought juice, you should opt for one that does not contain any preservatives. Yeast is needed to aid in the fermentation of the juice, and some preservatives can kill yeast.
For a fairly large batch of hard cider, you will need to purchase about five gallons of apple juice. It should be pure and contain one hundred percent juice. You will also need to purchase brewing yeast. You can choose from liquid or dry varieties, and sometimes wine yeast works as well. Check a home brewing store or website for the different options. Clean and sanitize a good-sized brewing vessel and sanitize any tools or measuring cups you use during the process. Properly sanitizing the containers and tools will keep the cider from spoiling. Use non-bleach cleaners that do not need rinsing.
When you are ready to start the brewing procedure, divide the apple juice, or pour the entire amount into your pot. The size of the pot used will determine if you will need to do the brewing in separate batches. Let the apple juice simmer on medium or medium-low heat for approximately forty-five minutes. Do not bring the juice to a boil, because it will become cloudy. Simmering the juice will kill whatever bacteria is in it, and it will make the fermenting process more successful. You can add two pounds of honey to the juice while it is simmering. This will increase the content of alcohol in the batch. If you have divided the juice into two parts, use one pound of honey in each batch.
While the juice is simmering, clean and sanitize a bucket that is designed for fermentation. The bucket should have an airlock lid and a spigot. An airlock will allow carbon dioxide to escape from the bucket without allowing any outside contamination spoil the cider. Let the juice cool off so it is no longer steaming, and pour it into the bucket. Each simmered batch can be put into one bucket. Add the yeast powder or liquid, and use the amount specified on the package according to your needs. Stir the mixture of juice and yeast for several minutes. Close the lid on the bucket and make sure the seal is airtight. The juice should be stored in an area with a fixed temperature. The ideal temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees, but the lower option is best. Keeping the temperature from fluctuating will aid in the fermentation process. If the temperature drops too low or rises too high, the juice will ferment too slowly or too quickly. While this may seem to be insignificant, the speed of fermentation can greatly affect the taste of the cider.
After a couple days, the airlock will bubble due to the release of carbon dioxide. This will diminish after about two weeks, and the fermentation process will be complete. You will need an extra week or so to allow the yeast to settle to the bottom of the bucket. Pour the cider into sanitized bottles by using a food-safe tube attached to the spigot, taking care not to stir up the yeast. Let the hard cider sit for a couple more weeks before consuming it. The longer it rests, the better it will taste.
Making hard apple cider using store bought apple juice can be rewarding and entertaining. Homemade hard apple cider tastes just as delicious as the pre-made kind. By making your own, you will appreciate the fact that you’ve created something with your own know-how, and you can impress your friends and family at the same time.