Author Topic: Has anyone made hard cider?  (Read 13404 times)

totoro

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Has anyone made hard cider?
« on: December 20, 2012, 11:43:28 AM »
I've tried traditional wine-making before and was not super happy with the result. I don't drink beer enough to want to make it. 

I'd like to try mead - and probably will - but honey is quite expensive around here.  We do have lots of free or near-free fruit on our trees though.  Has anyone tried making hard apple cider or another type of fruit wine... 

If you have any tips I`d love to hear them.

gdborton

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2012, 11:48:13 AM »
I've had warm apple cider with some Captain added, it was delicious but I don't think that's what you mean.

gotaholen1

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2012, 11:51:34 AM »
I have considered making hard cider, but hit a bit of a wall in regards to getting the ingredients.  All the recipes that I found required unpasteurized apple cider.  I called around in my area and I could actually buy it from a few local farmers, but they only had it certain times of the year. 

I am currently waiting on a few farmers to email me once the cider is available, and I will be starting a batch as soon as I can.

bo_knows

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2012, 11:59:41 AM »
I actually make a lot of cider. Compared to beer, it's usually pretty easy (no boiling required. in fact, it's discouraged as it messes up the pectin in the fruit.)

I generally work with the cheapest possible pasteurized apple juice (can't have any preservatives in it or the yeast wont work.. It can have vitamin C though, which is listed as absorbic acid).

If you want to use fruit, you're going to have to press or juice it all, and use potassium sorbate on it to pre-treat to kill all of the natural yeast.  Then, just put it in a santized brew bucket, pitch the yeast in, and wait. 

I've made blackstrap molasses vanilla cider,  chai tea cider,  ginger orange cider, and my latest is a Brown sugar and honey applewine (or cyser).

If you have any specific questions, feel free to continue.

bo_knows

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2012, 12:01:03 PM »
I have considered making hard cider, but hit a bit of a wall in regards to getting the ingredients.  All the recipes that I found required unpasteurized apple cider. 

The problem with using unpasteurized cider, is that you have a fairly high chance that the natural yeast in the cider will outproduce any yeast you add, and turn your cider into vinegar.

totoro

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2012, 12:21:29 PM »
I suppose the pressing/juicing is really the issue.  We have no shortage of apples, plums, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, apricots and cherries.  Anyone have any suggestions for the pressing/juicing?

Also, I have read that you put a campden tablet in the juice prior to adding the yeast?

I think this is potentially a great project and you could make extra of what gets better with age and then just store it.  Good gift item too.

cambridgecyclist

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2012, 01:06:08 PM »
I've also made a good deal of hard cider from unpasteurized sweet cider. The Campden tablet shocks naturally present yeast and gives the cider yeast that's added a head start. I've had good success with pasteurized cider, however, there's more variety with what I've been able to find unpasteurized. The key is to pick the cider up at the right time of year, when it's freshly available.

For berries and softer fruits, as long as the skins are crushed the brewing yeast can ferment the sugars. For easier processing, try freezing the fruit first which will help shatter the skin. Larger fruit like peaches should be cored and sliced before freezing. Thawed fruit can be macerated in a blender or food processor to completely break the skin. Fruit can be fermented on the skin, and this is generally the way to go since the skins have loads of flavor. After leaving the fruit on the skins for a few weeks, the skins can be strained out. The strained skins can be pressed by hand using a cheesecloth (or a grape press if one's available).

For wine from grapes, I've popped grapes individually by hand, fermented on the skins, pressed the skins using cheesecloth and made excellent wine this way.

The skins can be reconstituted with a sugar/water mixture and some yeast nutrient, and re-fermented to make cheap table wine, too, or raw ingredients for distilling.

totoro

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2012, 01:10:32 PM »
So it seems like apples might pose the only difficult re. juicing.  I would need a press of some sort - or access to one.  I'm not looking to buy juice as we have so many apples.

meadow lark

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2012, 09:32:34 PM »
I've never tried it, but I found a very simple recipe for "prison wine".  Basically fruit, yeast, sugar and water.  I'm having trouble with the exact address but I found it at. Www.Homesteadinghousewife.blogspot.com

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2012, 09:45:34 PM »
My husband and his friends have a giant batch of cider on the go right now.  They juiced the apples using a kitchen ninja blender (think cheaper version of Vitamix), and then strained out the pulp/seeds/skins, and then sorbated it.  I'm a terrible wife, and I stop paying attention to the process, until it is bottled after that though (sorry!)

He's made mead, beer, white wines, red wines, ciders, and port. 

My Grandma has a recipe for apple juice that is slightly different though.  It involves doing a rough chop of the apples, and then covering them in boiling water, mixed with cream of tartar, and letting them sit overnight.  Apparently the cream of tartar draws the sugars (and flavour) out of the apples, and into the water.  I've had her juice made this way (it need sweetening to drink as juice), and it is really tasty, but my husband hasn't tried to make cider that way.  Maybe next year.

As for other fruits, we've fermented apricots in wine during the primary fermentation process, and there is a batch of rhubarb mead on the go that will be ready in about 9 months from now.  Once you get the hang of fruit fermentation, a little experimenting can yield some wonderful results!

totoro

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2012, 12:11:30 AM »
I'm kind of excited to try it!

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2012, 08:48:28 AM »
A cider press doesn't seem that hard to make; I've seen a few plans online. It would be worth it if you've got a lot of fruit.

Just to correct something earlier in the thread, I'm pretty sure that apples go to vinegar from bacterial action, not wild yeasts.

I've always wanted to try this, but never had access to enough apples. Good luck!

frompa

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2013, 04:25:12 PM »
My oft used and very unscientific way of making hard cider is this:  Get a gallon of unpasteurized cider, pour out an 8 oz glass of the stuff and drink it.  Put the cap back on the gallon very loosely, stick it in the back of the fridge and forget about it for at least a month.  By that time, it will be hard cider, and a fine drink.  I've probably done this ten or fifteen years, and one year, for some reason, it did not work (believe me, you can tell when you have a problem - it smelled bad and had a creepy gooey covering on it), but the simplicity of this method makes those odds acceptable to me. 

spi

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2013, 09:15:34 PM »
My brother in law built a cider press last year and it seems like a pretty simple operation. He used that to help make a few different ciders and they didn't turn out half bad.

This past spring we planted a bunch of trees in his parent's backyard so in a few years we will have a good crop of apples. Currently we just get apples from local apple tree farms and he is using those to try making different varieties of cider to figure out a good mixture.

grantmeaname

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2013, 08:52:47 AM »
Hard apple cider is not only terrific homemade but also very hard to mess up. You can go to your neighborhood Costco, buy the cheapest apple juice that doesn't have preservatives, throw some (suitable) dry yeast in, and you'll get terrific cider after a couple of weeks. It's not like wine, where you'll know if you didn't use the right clarifying agents or the right juice. If you're thinking about making cider all the way from apples, it might be a good test run to buy the $20 worth of juice for a five gallon batch so you can see what all the late stages of the process are going to look like.

Just to correct something earlier in the thread, I'm pretty sure that apples go to vinegar from bacterial action, not wild yeasts.
Yeah, that would be the Acetobacter genus of bacteria. The big picture is the same though: your highly cultured and carefully bred yeast is generally outcompeted by other microorganisms in such a terrific growth medium as fruit juice, so if you're making booze you need to be very careful to sterilize things.

DK

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2013, 05:52:35 PM »
Maybe try this out:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/edworts-apfelwein-33986/

I did it before. Wasn't super impressed, but liked it. It finished a bit dry, and I like a bit of sweetness to my ciders, wines.

I've made a few wines just using frozen concentrate, sugar, water, and yeast. Some stuff turns out pretty good (to me at least, I'm not a wine snob) and it's quite cheap compared to what you buy in the stores.

BenDarDunDat

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2013, 02:18:26 PM »
I've tried traditional wine-making before and was not super happy with the result. I don't drink beer enough to want to make it. 

I'd like to try mead - and probably will - but honey is quite expensive around here.  We do have lots of free or near-free fruit on our trees though.  Has anyone tried making hard apple cider or another type of fruit wine... 

If you have any tips I`d love to hear them.

I've made hard cider, but not from fruit. I do make a number of fruit wines though. With free apples, I'd get the cheapest garbage disposal I could find and use it to grind up the apples.

I wish I had pictures, but basically I just use 3 5 gallon buckets and a large paint filter.  One bucket has holes notched out at various places in bottom and sides. This bucket is lined with a paint filter bag and inserted in another bucket. Dump the mash in the top bucket with holes and paint filter. Then when you are ready to press, lift the bucket and suspend over the other bucket that's beneath with 2 small 2x4s. Then you take the third bucket, insert in mash bucket and put more and more of your weight on it. Cider should run out the bottom and sides into the empty bucket below. Least it works that way for grapes. Only cost is an extra bucket and a paint filter.

I've never tried this with apples since we don't get many apples here due to climate and soil. It works fine for our tough skinned muscadines though.

Be careful and don't bust your ass.

bo_knows

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2013, 02:21:18 PM »
Maybe try this out:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/edworts-apfelwein-33986/

I did it before. Wasn't super impressed, but liked it. It finished a bit dry, and I like a bit of sweetness to my ciders, wines.

I've made a few wines just using frozen concentrate, sugar, water, and yeast. Some stuff turns out pretty good (to me at least, I'm not a wine snob) and it's quite cheap compared to what you buy in the stores.

Flavorings like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves do wonders for that recipe.

nico demouse

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2013, 05:33:36 PM »
I've never made cider (or wine or beer, for that matter) but...I am a member of a local fruit growing club. The club owns a cider press and one of the meetings each year is a group apple pressing. Might be something to look into.

DK

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2013, 06:55:31 PM »
Maybe try this out:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/edworts-apfelwein-33986/

I did it before. Wasn't super impressed, but liked it. It finished a bit dry, and I like a bit of sweetness to my ciders, wines.

I've made a few wines just using frozen concentrate, sugar, water, and yeast. Some stuff turns out pretty good (to me at least, I'm not a wine snob) and it's quite cheap compared to what you buy in the stores.

Flavorings like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves do wonders for that recipe.

I did try it with cinnamon. I definitely prefer it that way. Good call.

totoro

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2013, 09:36:41 PM »
Many ingenious ideas here... I may go with the store-bought apple juice to start but I have a lot of apples, peaches, cherries and apricots in season.  Shame not to dry, can, freeze... and cider them up :)

bo_knows

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2013, 06:59:45 AM »
Many ingenious ideas here... I may go with the store-bought apple juice to start but I have a lot of apples, peaches, cherries and apricots in season.  Shame not to dry, can, freeze... and cider them up :)

It would be a shame.  You certainly should seek out a friend with a juicer.

turtlefield76

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2013, 06:24:17 PM »
this is a pretty awesome thread.

racherinh

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2013, 06:19:53 AM »
We made it one year, kind of by accident. We've pressed our own cider off and on since I was kid, so we went to orchard, picked a bunch of dropped apples (cheaper than way), and pressed them. The cider was awful, though, very bland. It had very little flavor. My younger brother, homebrewer extrodinaire, had left a few carboys and things at my parents, so we dumped the cider into a clean carboy, added an airlock, and forgot about it.

A month later my dad called us and said that the cider was working - it took him a while to figure out what a funny smell was in the basement...but he tasted it and it was great. When my little brother visited a bit later, he mixed up a sugar syrup and bottled it for some carbonation. Then we let it age.

Over Christmas we all enjoyed it tremendously. I don't know what made that batch so good, but it delicate bubbles like a nice bottle of champagne, only a complex apple flavor. We did set aside a few bottles to see how well it lasted, and as far we could tell 6-12 months was the limit. But we didn't want to set aside too much, it was too good. 

We hope to repeat this sometime, as it was much easier than brewing or wine-making.

jawisco

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2013, 06:56:48 AM »
I have made a fair amount of hard cider and it is the easiest alcohol to make in my opinion.  I have only used fresh, unpasturized cider, so I cannot add anything to making cider with store bought apple juice. 

If you are pressing your own, try to add a variety of apples to any batch.  If you have any "wild" apple trees around that don't produce good eating apples, they can make the best cider so add them to the press. 

I like my cider dry, so I use champagne yeast, but just about any brewing yeast will do.  I have never bothered trying to kill the natural yeasts and never had a problem - as long as you add a good amount of yeast, proof it before adding to the cider, and add it soon after pressing, it will overtake any of the natural yeasts and you won't have any issues.  It is amazingly easy to produce something better than anything you can buy.  Good sanitation is very important (as with any homemade alcohol) regarding carboy, bottling, airlock.

kramshields

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2013, 12:18:02 PM »
I have been homebrewing for about five years and made 1-2 batches of hard cider each Fall.  I have used only unpasteurized juice, and have had equally good luck with fresh juice and store bought.  Here are a few tips based on my experience:

  • I give a huge second to using Champagne yeast!  It provides the best flavor for those that aren't "big beer drinkers" and can also withstand higher alcohol content levels (see next tip).
  • It's all to personal taste, but if you want to raise the alcohol content add a 2 lb. bag of brown sugar to 5 gallons of apple juice.  That raises the typical 5-6% to 10-11%, and so be warned.
  • Campden tablets are a cheap way to kill the bacteria in unpasteurized cider, as someone else mentioned.  In a pinch, an alternative is doing a 40-minute simmer at 180 degrees.  You will kill most of the wild bacteria without harming the integrity of the cider, but this isn't easy unless you constantly monitor the temperature.  You will also want to cool it quickly to avoid contamination before you pitch the yeast, which means you will probably have a homebrewer's wort chiller and then more likely to already have the tablets also. :-)
  • For those interested in having hard cider outside of the Fall months, bottling or kegging it for 6-9 months shouldn't be a problem.  I usually take mine to cookouts and so it doesn't tend to last long, but I've had it 3-4 months afterward and it tasted just as fresh then as when I first served it.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2013, 12:48:57 PM »
What if I wanted a lower alcohol content?
Something like the "Small Beer" of yore, which was actually used to hydrate oneself? (IIRC, that's 2% or less) Does anyone know how that was done? My guess is that it's either from choosing a yeast with a low alcohol tolerance, or stopping the fermentation partway through, as I doubt they would have bothered cooking the alcohol off their drinks back in the day.

igthebold

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2013, 01:04:59 PM »
What if I wanted a lower alcohol content?
Something like the "Small Beer" of yore, which was actually used to hydrate oneself? (IIRC, that's 2% or less) Does anyone know how that was done? My guess is that it's either from choosing a yeast with a low alcohol tolerance, or stopping the fermentation partway through, as I doubt they would have bothered cooking the alcohol off their drinks back in the day.

You'd need to dilute it to reduce the sugar content, most likely. Trying to stop fermentation partway through would be tough.

A possibility would be to keep the sugar content super low, ferment to completion, add apple juice, and refrigerate. You'd have to experiment with ways to balance out the sweetness, but if you like plain apple juice you'll be fine.

Mechanista

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2013, 04:39:32 PM »
I have been home brewing for years and make about 15 gallons of cider every fall. We enjoy it all winter and sometimes give it as gifts etc.

My observations:

-Garbage in garbage out. If you just go to the store and get cheap juice from concentrate, it will ferment and get you drunk, but taste like rocket fuel and pond water. Just my opinion. It's not too much more for good quality cider in our area and the final product is far and away superior. We have tried a few different kinds and settled on the house blend from a local orchard. We buy 15-20 gallons directly from the orchard every fall at a discount. It comes to us flash pasteurized from the Orchard.

-We (GF, friends, family, me) prefer to leave just a little natural sugar in the Cider. We find it balances better and you don't get the hot alcohols and harsh favors. Most people who try our cider mistake it for some kind of sparkling wine. We accomplish this by chilling the cider so that the yeast drops out when the fermentation is about 2/3 done. We then rack the cider off the yeast for bottling/kegging and allow it to condition in the bottle or keg. When the carbonation is about right, we pasteurize the bottles or keg to stop further fermentation. Disclaimer: If you are new to this, understand that you need to know what you are doing while bottle conditioning so as not to create exploding bottle safety hazards.

-I have had great luck with WLP 023-Burton Ale yeast for Cider. Keep fermentation to about 66-67 degrees. At first you will notice some Sulphur smells as it ferments, but don't worry, give it some time and it dissipates. Especially with bottle conditioning.

-We add a small amount of pectin enzyme to prevent haze. Not strictly necessary.

-I've found that if I make it this way, it's pretty much ready to drink, and doesn't benefit from aging much.

Further info:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/easy-stove-top-pasteurizing-pics-193295/

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Jamil-Show/Cider-The-Jamil-Show-12-15-08

Happy brewing!




Heather

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2013, 01:49:34 PM »
I have a fruit press and a hand crank grinder, if anyone in Ottawa Canada area wants to borrow them to make something.

Heather.

Rosalind

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Re: Has anyone made hard cider?
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2013, 05:00:45 PM »
Do you (or anyone else) have an apple crusher?  If so I would dearly love to borrow it as we are anticipating a bumper crop this year and would like to make juice. We already have a press but it only takes crushed apples. I am in Ottawa too.
Thank you!