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How To Make Hard Cider
The following How-To is based on using Fresh/Frozen Fruit. If using a kit, please refer to the kit instructions provided in the kit.
You will follow the same basic instructions for making cider as you do for wine until it comes to aging and bottling, then you will be aging and bottling much the same way as you do beer.
10 Easy Steps to Making Cider
Follow these 10 easy steps to make any type of cider you prefer.
Step 1: Prepare fruit by cutting up larger fruit and breaking skins on smaller fruit. Any large pits should be removed. Use fresh raw ingredients when making cider. Over-processing fruit will result in a very bitter cider.
Step 2: Take a Hydrometer Reading of your juice. Put a sample of juice in a test jar. Spin hydrometer to dislodge air bubbles.
At eye level read the figures on the stem of the hydrometer where the surface of the liquid cuts across the stem. This figure will tell you how much sugar is in the juice and the potential alcohol. Adjust sugar for type of cider you wish to make.
Step 3: Sanitize all equipment and utensils with sulfite solution. See instructions below for making a sanitizing solution.
Step 4: Stir together all of the cider making ingredients called for, EXCEPT for the YEAST, into a primary fermenter. Collect any pulp in a nylon straining bag and submerge the bag into the cider making mixture. Add water to equal the batch to 5 gallons.
Then add 5 Crushed Campden Tablets. They should be crushed up before adding. Adding the cider yeast at the same time you add the Campden Tablets will result in destroying the yeast.
Step 5: Cover the fermenter and wait 24 hours. During this time, the Campden Tablets are sterilizing the juice with a mild sulfur gas. During the 24 hours, the sulfur gas leaves the container making it safe to add the cider yeast.
Step 6: Sprinkle the cider YEAST over the surface of the juice and then attach lid and airlock. Allow this mixture to ferment for 5 to 7 days.
You should start to see some foaming activity within 24 hours of adding the cider yeast. Typically, 70% of the fermentation activity will occur during this 5 to 7 day period.
Step 7: After 5 to 7 days remove the pulp from the fermenter and discard. Siphon the cider into a secondary fermenter in a careful manner, so as to leave the sediment behind. You can easily remove the pulp by lifting out the fermentation bag. Drain out any excess juice from the bag. Siphon the cider off the sediment without stirring it up. Get as much liquid as you can, even it some of the sediment comes with it. If necessary, add water back to 5 gallons.
Step 8: Attach an air-lock and fill it approximately half-way with water. Allow the juice to ferment for an additional 4-6 week period or until it becomes completely clear. Use your hydrometer to verify that the fermentation is complete before continuing. The wine/cider hydrometer should read between 0.990 and 0.998 on the Specific Gravity scale.
Step 9: Once the cider has cleared completely, siphon it off of the sediment again. Take your final hydrometer reading.
If you want a sparkling cider, bottle your cider with a priming sugar solution, into 12 oz or 22 oz beer bottles with bottle caps and condition at room temperature for 2-3 weeks and then chill and enjoy.
If you want a "Still" cider, meaning no carbonation and drinks like a wine, then proceed with the next two steps.
Step 1 Stir in 1 ¼ teaspoons of Potassium Sorbate and 5 Crushed and dissolved Campden Tablets. When siphoning off the sediment, unlike the first time you siphoned the cider, you want to leave all of the sediment behind, even if you lose a little cider.
Step 2: You can bottle your cider at this point or let it bulk age in a glass carboy. If you bulk age, keep the carboy topped up to the neck of the carboy.
ADDITIONAL HOME WINE MAKING INFORMATION
•Sulfite Sanitizing Solution: Dissolve Four crushed Campden Tablets in one quart of water to make sanitizing solution. Being sanitary is one of the keys to great home wine/cider making.
•Temperatures: Keep fermentation temperatures stable between 70-75 degrees F. Getting the fermentation too cool could result in the fermentation stopping before all the alcohol is made. Getting the fermentation too warm could result in off-flavors in your cider.
•Sweetening Your cider: The cider will be dry tasting when finished fermenting. If you prefer your ciders sweeter, simply add sugar, honey, etc. to taste. However, you must first add a wine/cider making stabilizer such as Potassium Sorbate, or there will be a strong chance of re-fermentation occurring in the bottles.
•Hydrometer: In order to make good cider, you will need to use a Hydrometer. The hydrometer is used to measure the concentration of sugar in your cider at any given time. With this information you can determine your cider's alcoholic content or simply monitor the fermentation throughout the home wine making process.