(Hard) Cider can be made with a very straightforward process, but like mead, there are lots of different techniques that can be used to make different styles of cider.
The basic process (after procuring equipment and ingredients) to make a hard cider requires the following steps:
- Clean and sanitize all of the equipment
- Add the cider to a fermentation bucket
- Measure the gravity, i.e. sugar content, using a hydrometer
- Re-hydrate some yeast (71B-1122 or S05 are good to start with)
- Pitch (add) the re-hydrated yeast to the must
- Put the lid and airlock on the bucket
- Set the bucket somewhere where the temperature can either be controlled or stays pretty constant. Cooler is better, somewhere in the 62-64 deg F range is ideal.
- Within 12-24 hours the airlock should be bubbling away. You have fermentation!
- Make sure you sanitize any equipment that will touch your cider
- Degas and feed nutrients daily for 3 days, and then once more when 1/3 of the sugar has been consumed
- Measure the gravity looking for it to stop and stay constant over several measurements taken over a week or so
- Rack (siphon) the cider, leaving behind the lees and yeast, into a sanitized carboy and affix and airlock
- Add stabilization additives (Sulfite & Sorbate), mix well, and allow several days before doing anything else.
- Allow the cider to clear on its own or use a clarifying agent to clear it
- Bottle or keg the cider
- Enjoy it!
That seems too easy. Is this a trick? Not all the detail has been provided in the steps above, so you will need to do a little homework, but trust us, that can be both inspiring and a lot of fun! And where you go from here is as much art/taste/preference as it is science.
There are many great resources to help you understand how the other styles of cider can be made and additional measurements and techniques that can be applied, all of which can help you take your cidermaking to the next level. A full set of books and links can be found in the Resources page, several of which have also been presented below.
- Example of the equipment needed to start from MoreWine!
- Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying – Annie Proulx
- Craft Cider Making – Andrew Lea
- The New Cider Maker’s Handbook – Claude Jolicoeur
- Amateur Cider Making Facebook Group
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