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So, tell me how to make hard cider

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by lukem, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Alright, this has been on the to-do list for a while now, but I've decided this is the year to give it a go.

    I put up 40 gallons of cider a few weeks ago...it is now in the deep freezer. I have a 5 gallon glass carboy, but no stopper/airlock.

    I plan on making one 5 gallon batch to test the waters.

    I have lots of questions - please help a guy out.

    1. I've heard that it is best to kill the natural yeast and add brewer's yeast. Is this correct? If so, how much of what type of yeast would be needed for a 5 gallon batch?

    2. I've heard that it is best to add some sort of sugar to the cider to "feed" the yeast. Is this correct? If so, how much additional sugar would be required for a 5 gallon batch? What is the best type of sugar to use (plain white, light brown, dark brown, honey)?

    3. Where should I store the carboy for fermentation? Temperature? Light?

    4. How long would can I expect it to take to reach ~8-10 ABV?

    5. While it is sitting and fermenting, do I need to "mess with it " any or just let it go?

    That's what I know that I don't know. There may be other things that I don't know that I don't know...feel free to add to that list as well.

    Thanks, all.

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Not an expert, but did it a couple times looong ago.

    I used pastuerized apple juice, table (cane) sugar and a packet of baker's yeast. Fermented it at room temp for a couple weeks. I estimated the amount of sugar to add by assuming 1 sucrose molecule = 4 EtOH molecules. And it worked. For extra fun, you can put the result in the freezer, and then run the slush through a sieve....toss the ice crystals and keep the liquid. The product was nicely clarified and more like 15-20%ABV, and tasted better. Added more sugar to taste.

    As a grown up, I would run it like beer. Heat the cider to pasteurize, add sugar to a recipe-specified density, cool it, brewers yeast it and bottle it. Run until fermentation stops. And I would prob still do the freezing thing for clarification...and getting the ABV >15% makes it shelf stable.
  3. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    I would say you can not get much harder than frozen................sorry could not resist
  4. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, you just lost me right there. Soooooo......I add how much sugar?
  5. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    You should look at some homebrewing and winemaking sites. homebrewtalk.com is a pretty good one. You'll find it easier to follow some proven recipes until you get a feel for it.
  6. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    As nostalgic as this is for me....your best bet is to work from a recipe

    I found this... http://makinghardcider.com/

    I made sweet apple wine, and then apple jacked it.
  7. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    1. It depends on your preference. I've had some made with the "wild" yeast that was pretty good, but there are a lot of variables in a wild yeast and it might take a while to mellow the flavor out. Since you've already frozen the cider, the wild yeast is dead anyway, so you'll need to use an ale or wine yeast. I used to make it with ale yeast, but I've decided I like very dry ciders now, so personally I would use a champagne yeast, but that's just me.

    2. There is enough sugar in natural cider to make a product that is about 5% alcohol by volume (abv). Maybe more this year since the drought probably made a concentrated cider. The only thing sugar "feeds" the yeast is more sugar for making more alcohol. I would add a small amount of yeast nutrient (available at any homebrewing store) to ensure healthy yeast and a decent fermentation. Beer makers don't need to do this because of all of the nutrients contained in the grains. If you want a stronger product, adding about 1 pound of sugar per gallon will roughly double the abv (10% abv). Some people use brown sugar, and some use honey to make a cyser (cider mead).

    3. Depends on the yeast, but most ale yeasts like it at around 65f. Don't go below 62 (slow fermentation) and above 70 (too fast = not a smooth product).

    4. Fermentation will be mostly complete in the first 10 days, but the rest will take several weeks. Again, if you want the abv higher than 5%, you'll have to add sugar.

    5. Just let it go. When it begins to clear and the airlock activity all but stops, its nearly ready. Getting a hydrometer and measuring the density/specific gravity of the product will help with knowing when its done. It will probably fall to around 1.002 when its done. If you have leave it for more than several weeks before you bottle it, you might consider racking it (transferring it) to another carboy just to get it off of the sediment.

    I hope this helps.. good luck.
  8. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Great info. Thanks so much...with a handle like yours I'm guessing you know what you are talking about.
  9. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

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    I have never done cider but have been home brewing for almost two years, make sure that all fermentation activity is finished before bottling.
  10. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    That's what I keep telling them at the institute, but I still just sweep up.

    Have fun.
  11. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Ah yes the institute for a better tomorrow aka improve your home make brews.

    ETA: Just for everyones information making a hard cider is likely legal in your location, but freeze distilling it (any distilling of an alcohol containing substance requires a federal license) isn't. You can make hard apple cider, apple wine, but apple jack is a different matter entirely.
  12. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I buy 5 gallons of pressed cider that has been non-chemically pasteurized from a good local orchard. If your cider is clear and does not benefit from a good shaking to stir the mud then you are not getting the right stuff.

    Dump in the carboy, add 2-5 lbs of dark brown real brown sugar, add one packet of dry nottingham ale yeast and then let it ferment. No cooking, no mixing, or timing hop additions. Way easier than beer. When it is all fermented out I like to add the non-fermentable sugar Xylitol, to sweeten up the cider without restarting fermentation as the bugs would just eat the sugar anyway. I bottle with corn sugar as though it was beer.

    Despite using honeycrisp (very sweet variety) cider and 2 lbs of brown sugar, my finished ABV was just around 5%. I was hoping for a 9% panty dropper. Oh and of course you have to tell the joke about your new brand of cider. Dickin's Cider. Just say it. The company mascot is a donkey. Dickin's Cider Ass.

    Oh such fun. Cider making time is upon us. Go forth and brew. It is very hard to screw up a cider.
  14. basod

    basod Minister of Fire

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    ...Back when John Boy & Billy were funny

    We used to make it on the farm, any jugs that were buldging came off the shelf and into the farm cellar. Used 5gal buckets with some custom bubblers.
    Never measured anything but its tasted good and made an afternoon of cornstalk cutting or pumpkin picking amusing
  15. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Did you check OG and FG? I never had Nottingham get below the high teens in beer. At those numbers, it would have to start around 1.085 to hit 9%. Thats a lot of sugar.
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I record all of my batches but the numbers are in my logbook at home. I recall the FG not getting too low which of course is directly related to low ABV level. On the other hand, the higher FG should provide some sweetness that is generally a positive thing for ciders.
  17. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    All the recipes I have seen never show it finishing as low as a beer would. That's not really a bad thing. Like you said, more sweetness as well as body.
    I've been good with lower gravity stuff lately. I'd rather be able to drink more and be stupid less. Especially with something as tasty as a good cider can be.
  18. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Good to know!
  19. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    Don't forget the dead rat :p

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