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    Thread: Anyone make hard cider?

    1. Member adrew's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 12:26 PM #1
      There was some interest in this in the "last purchase" thread so I thought I'd post about what we have going so far. Basically, we're doing this as an experiment to see how far we can cut the monthly adult beverage budget since you can make a gallon of fairly potent stuff (7-8%) for about $5.

      This is the process I did on Sunday afternoon. There are a few more things to buy if we get serious, like a hydrometer to measure alcohol content, maybe some bigger jugs and better bottles. But for now we are just winging it -- we're into it for about $30 so far. The most expensive thing was a $10 auto-siphon for bottling.

      This is my first time, so feel free to correct anything or add suggestions!

      1 — Sterilize everything (if we ramp this up I will get the spray sanitizer, doing the first batch as cheap as possible)


      2 — Get some yeast. This was $3 and came highly recommended, but you can use cheaper stuff, or even bread yeast if you're feeling adventurous. It takes about 1/5 of a pack per gallon but you can add a little extra with no issues.


      3 — Get some yeast nutrient ($2) and pectic enzyme ($2). The nutrient helps the yeast do their thing; the pectic enzyme helps the pectin to clump up and fall to the bottom (clears up unfiltered juice). Each of these will last for 10+ batches.


      4 — Get some apple juice. We started with this fancy $8/gallon stuff since jugs with juice were the same price as new empty ones.


      5 — Get some vodka to put in the air lock (keeps out contaminants and bugs, keeps mold from growing. We already had this cheap/decent local stuff but I'll get something cheap for this purpose next time I'm at Spec's.


      6 — Fill the airlock


      7 — Add a cup of sugar to boost the alcohol content. If you don't add sugar it will come out around 5%.


      8 — Add the yeast, pectic enzyme and nutrient, then shake the hell out of it until all the sugar is dissolved


      9 — Put in the airlock (1-gallon jugs take a #6 stopper) and put it some place dark for a week


      We had this amount of action after 24 hours, pretty fun project so far!
      Last edited by adrew; 09-30-2014 at 06:40 PM.
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      09-30-2014 12:40 PM #2
      I would highly suggest that you let it ferment for much longer than a week. Two weeks, minimum. Four weeks will allow it to mellow out a lot.

    3. Member adrew's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 12:46 PM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by Bladecatcher View Post
      I would highly suggest that you let it ferment for much longer than a week. Two weeks, minimum. Four weeks will allow it to mellow out a lot.
      That is the plan. We're not going to back sweeten this batch so we can see the difference between the store-bought stuff (Angry Orchard and Woodchuck are a bit too sweet for me).

      Do most people siphon to another jug to let it clear out more (leaving the dregs behind) or just bottle straight from the jug?
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    4. Member palakaman's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 12:49 PM #4
      I would siphon it when you bottle. No one wants a lot of floaties. Are you going to make it sparkling?
      Last edited by palakaman; 09-30-2014 at 12:51 PM.
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    5. Member adrew's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 12:52 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by palakaman View Post
      Are you going to make it sparkling?
      Not sure yet - I would like to but am slightly afraid of exploding bottles with the first batch. I saw a recommendation to do one plastic bottle, then you can check it out periodically to see if it's getting too pressurized (put it in the fridge at that point).
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    6. 09-30-2014 12:55 PM #6
      i must try this.

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      09-30-2014 12:58 PM #7
      You could also do this a lot cheaper if you do it like the old-timers used to.

      Gallon of cider. Add a handful of raisins. Stick a balloon on top and store it where the kids can't find it.

      You might go blind, but should only cost you $5.

    8. Member jackboots's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 01:05 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by Bladecatcher View Post
      You could also do this a lot cheaper if you do it like the old-timers used to.

      Gallon of cider. Add a handful of raisins. Stick a balloon on top and store it where the kids can't find it.

      You might go blind, but should only cost you $5.
      Whaddya mean, I might go blind? That's just properganger comin up from the chalky man!

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      09-30-2014 01:06 PM #9
      I actually started my 1 gallon batch over the weekend based on the "last purchase" thread inspiration as well. Picked up a gallon of locally pressed cider (no preservatives) and transferred it into my glass carboy. I did have an issue of it overflowing through the airlock on the first night but after that I'm good to go. I'm going to let it sit for 2 weeks before I check it. The one thing I would like to try to do with this one is reclaim the yeast after I'm done with it. Anyone have experience with that? I will siphon this out of the carboy and transfer to bottles.

    10. Member adrew's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 01:17 PM #10
      It looks like you can. We make yogurt (it is even easier than this) and you can use the last bit of one batch to get the next one going. I might give it a go once I use up the yeast I have on hand (bought two packs).
      http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/reus...-yeast-435286/

      Was your juice pasteurized? If not, I have read that you should either heat it up on the stove to 175° or so, or add a campden tablet to kill any wild yeast that might be in there. Otherwise it can get funky. Don't boil it because that will cause the pectin to bind together and it will never clear up.
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    11. Member palakaman's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 01:19 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      Not sure yet - I would like to but am slightly afraid of exploding bottles with the first batch. I saw a recommendation to do one plastic bottle, then you can check it out periodically to see if it's getting too pressurized (put it in the fridge at that point).
      Now I only have experience with carbonating beer but it should be the same with cider.

      Before graduationg to kegging I would bottle. When I did, I would disolve priming sugar into the carboy right before bottling. The residual floating yeast would feed on that during carbonation. I used a cup or sugar for 5 gallons so you would just use a 5th of that for a gallon I would assume (not sure if it's be different for cider though). Then bottle and cap, then wait another week or so for it to carbonate.

      If you're bottling into bottles you shouldn't be worried about them exploding.
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    12. 09-30-2014 01:24 PM #12
      for the enzyme and the yeast nutrient, how much of it do you add to a gallon of the cider?

    13. Member adrew's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 01:32 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by palakaman View Post
      If you're bottling into bottles you shouldn't be worried about them exploding.
      Thanks, that is the same ratio I found. We are using fliptop bottles (mix of Grolsch and mead) so I think those pop with a little more force if they go.

      Quote Originally Posted by JPawn1 View Post
      for the enzyme and the yeast nutrient, how much of it do you add to a gallon of the cider?
      1/4 teaspoon nutrient
      1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme

      If you're stressing it with a higher alcohol / more sugar, you can add more nutrient to help them along.

      Here is the best formatted step-by-step I found -- kind of combined that with several YouTube videos. I didn't do anything fancy like adding tannins.
      http://www.northernbrewer.com/documentation/cider.pdf
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    14. Member palakaman's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 01:37 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      Thanks, that is the same ratio I found. We are using fliptop bottles (mix of Grolsch and mead) so I think those pop with a little more force if they go.

      I like flip top bottles. I've carbonated in those before as well.
      Quote Originally Posted by ktk View Post
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      09-30-2014 01:43 PM #15
      I drink a lot of cider (can't drink beer anymore). Curious to see how this turns out.

    16. 09-30-2014 01:45 PM #16
      thanks for the response. I'm going to eventually give this a shot. Gotta pick up the materials now.

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      09-30-2014 01:56 PM #17
      I make 20-30 gallons a year depending on how much gets consumed. I use 5 gallons of apple juice, and 2 pounds of corn sugar. Stop it at 1.018-1.02, and back sweeten with 5 cans of apple juice concentrate, sometimes I add a caramel syrup too. Then I keg it after three or four days and cold crash, or bottle and then pasteurize after three or four days.

      Every time I use cider it tastes like vinegar for 3-4 months (this could be from using fresh pressed unpasteurized cider out of our press last year), so I stick to the apple juice and its usually drinkable a week after fermentation and killer after 3 weeks.

      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      The one thing I would like to try to do with this one is reclaim the yeast after I'm done with it. Anyone have experience with that? I will siphon this out of the carboy and transfer to bottles.
      I do it all the time, more juice right in on top of the old yeast cake. It will only take a couple days to ferment, so if your planning on stopping it sweet pay attention.


      I'll see if I can find some pictures, but if you guys are planning on stopping it short or back sweetening, be ****ing careful pasteurizing bottles. We had three explode coming out of the water one day. My wife still laughs because we'll find glass shard here and there a year and a half later. It got to the point where we were using the pot lid as a shield with wielding gloves and ****, and its loud as hell when they blow, not to mention the scalding cider flying through the air.

      If its going to be a dry cider, I think the last batch stopped at .995, I use 3/4 cup of corn sugar into the bottling bucket with 5 gallons before bottling. I've never had a bottle bomb of the dry stuff.
      Last edited by guppy3488; 09-30-2014 at 02:04 PM.
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    18. Member palakaman's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 02:31 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by guppy3488 View Post


      I'll see if I can find some pictures, but if you guys are planning on stopping it short or back sweetening, be ****ing careful pasteurizing bottles. We had three explode coming out of the water one day. My wife still laughs because we'll find glass shard here and there a year and a half later. It got to the point where we were using the pot lid as a shield with wielding gloves and ****, and its loud as hell when they blow, not to mention the scalding cider flying through the air.
      You pasteurize your bottles after capping? Is this something that needs to be done?
      Quote Originally Posted by ktk View Post
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    19. Member Nubbin's Avatar
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      09-30-2014 02:52 PM #19
      Can you just mix apple juice with like beer?
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      09-30-2014 04:26 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by palakaman View Post
      You pasteurize your bottles after capping? Is this something that needs to be done?
      Only if back sweetening at bottling or bottling sweet at like 1.02 on the hydro before fermentation fully finishes, it introduces the yeast to a whole lot of new sugar. If you bottled and didn't pasteurize I'd put money on every single bottle exploding, i.e. bottle bombs. If your drying the cider all the way out and fully fermenting, my stuff with 2 pounds of corn sugar added will usually finish around .995-1.00, 3/4 cup of corn sugar per five gallons has always work for me to carb the bottles with no bottle bombs.

      My mom and dad like sweeter cider, so I stop it short at like 1.018 and add five cans of apple juice concentrate to the five gallons. I let the yeast do their thing for three or four days to carb the bottles and then hot bath the bottles at 170*f for 12 minutes to pasteurize the poor bastards.

      Quote Originally Posted by Nubbin View Post
      Can you just mix apple juice with like beer?
      Not sure what your asking but I use Nottingham Ale yeast, a beer yeast, with five gallons of Mott's apple juice or what ever is on sale that doesn't contain any potassium sorbate.

      This is what my pasteurization process looks like. My brewing kettles came with baskets, so I use them to keep the bottles off the bottom away from the direct heat on the bottom of the kettle from the burner. I have two pots so by the time one batch is done with it's hot bath the other batch is cooled and unloaded. Reload the cool batch, rinse and repeat. DO NOT let the bottles sit directly on the bottom of the pot, and DO NOT let the water level exceed the caps of the bottles. Some hissing is normal from the caps. Again none of this is needed if you are making dry cider, and fully ferment your batch, only for back sweetened or bottling sweet.

      Last edited by guppy3488; 09-30-2014 at 04:48 PM.
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      09-30-2014 06:34 PM #21
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      10-02-2014 09:35 AM #22
      I just finished my first batch, I went for the driest possible and Im looking at 16-18% alcohol. Another thing you could do to get all the stuff out of the bottom is to rack it, where you pull most of the cider into another pot using your siphon and then wash the crud out of the bottom of your fermentation bottle, then dump the old stuff back in! I had my cider looking very clear within 2 racks.

      I also had much better luck with unpasteurized cider. I got mine straight from a local orchard and as long as you sterilize everything (either boil or use potassium metabisulfite/ water mix) and it turned out well for me. The only thing I had to worry about was sediment forming at the bottom, which racking solved.

      Definitely still a work in process for me. I got most of my equipment for free, but for 5 gallons of cider I invested probably $60-70. Ironically enough, the most expensive part for me was all the cleaner. I probably went overboard, but its better safe than sorry!
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    23. 10-06-2014 07:23 PM #23
      I made some cider years back, It came out pretty dry, not really to my liking, but hey it'll get ya drunk.
      Definitely something that takes time and practice to really get the taste you personally enjoy.


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      10-08-2014 01:43 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by karpiak View Post
      I made some cider years back, It came out pretty dry, not really to my liking, but hey it'll get ya drunk.
      Definitely something that takes time and practice to really get the taste you personally enjoy.
      It's actually fairly easy to make it sweeter. Once you're almost at the stage of bottling, just add more sugar to your cider and it will make it sweeter. Once you're at the stage of fermentation, the yeast is no longer active so it will not eat all of the sugar. A lot of people do this when they are bottling cider compared to bottling.
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    25. Member adrew's Avatar
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      10-11-2014 02:53 PM #25
      Still going a little after almost two weeks


      Getting pretty clear!
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    26. Member adrew's Avatar
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      10-14-2014 11:03 PM #26
      Getting close



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      10-17-2014 02:38 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrumblebelly View Post
      I just finished my first batch, I went for the driest possible and Im looking at 16-18% alcohol. Another thing you could do to get all the stuff out of the bottom is to rack it, where you pull most of the cider into another pot using your siphon and then wash the crud out of the bottom of your fermentation bottle, then dump the old stuff back in! I had my cider looking very clear within 2 racks.

      I also had much better luck with unpasteurized cider. I got mine straight from a local orchard and as long as you sterilize everything (either boil or use potassium metabisulfite/ water mix) and it turned out well for me. The only thing I had to worry about was sediment forming at the bottom, which racking solved.

      Definitely still a work in process for me. I got most of my equipment for free, but for 5 gallons of cider I invested probably $60-70. Ironically enough, the most expensive part for me was all the cleaner. I probably went overboard, but its better safe than sorry!
      Just about to start my first batch this weekend. I got a gallon of pasteurized and a gallon of unpasteurized apple juice from a local orchard. You mentioned you've had better luck with the unpasteurized juice, did you do anything to kill any bacteria or yeast in the juice (simmering, campden tablets, etc)?

      This is my plan so far:
      Ingredients:
      2 gallons of juice - 1 natural, 1 pasteurized.
      Nottingham Ale Yeast on both
      Pectic Enzime at time of pitching yeast
      Yeast nutrient at the same time

      Method:
      Let both gallons ferment for 3 weeks
      Split each gallon into 2 categories: flat and bubbly
      Pitch some corn sugar into the bubbly mix at the time of bottling
      Bottle the flat cider and immediately refrigerate it

      I am hoping the bubbly cider will be ready in about 3 weeks after I pitch the sugar at which point I'll refrigerate it.

      Am I missing anything?

    28. 10-17-2014 06:29 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrumblebelly View Post
      I just finished my first batch, I went for the driest possible and Im looking at 16-18% alcohol. Another thing you could do to get all the stuff out of the bottom is to rack it, where you pull most of the cider into another pot using your siphon and then wash the crud out of the bottom of your fermentation bottle, then dump the old stuff back in! I had my cider looking very clear within 2 racks.

      I also had much better luck with unpasteurized cider. I got mine straight from a local orchard and as long as you sterilize everything (either boil or use potassium metabisulfite/ water mix) and it turned out well for me. The only thing I had to worry about was sediment forming at the bottom, which racking solved.

      Definitely still a work in process for me. I got most of my equipment for free, but for 5 gallons of cider I invested probably $60-70. Ironically enough, the most expensive part for me was all the cleaner. I probably went overboard, but its better safe than sorry!
      how does a 16-18% cider taste?

    29. Member adrew's Avatar
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      Yesterday 01:43 PM #29
      Looks done to me! We'll be bottling later today and starting some more. I'll post taste tests in a few days.
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    30. Member adrew's Avatar
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      Yesterday 03:44 PM #30
      1 gallon yielded eight Grolsch bottles. Starting two more gallons today, with one jug of the good stuff and one gallon from Costco.
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    31. Member adrew's Avatar
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      Yesterday 04:41 PM #31
      Two more batches going now: unfiltered with 1 cup brown sugar and Costco brand with 1 cup of white sugar. This is pretty fun!
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      Yesterday 06:55 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by JPawn1 View Post
      how does a 16-18% cider taste?
      It is extremely dry. I will definitely be adding more sugar to it next time. It also seems to have a strong taste of alcohol.... Don't know if that's from fermentation or just because it's so strong.
      Quote Originally Posted by BrShootr View Post
      Just about to start my first batch this weekend. I got a gallon of pasteurized and a gallon of unpasteurized apple juice from a local orchard. You mentioned you've had better luck with the unpasteurized juice, did you do anything to kill any bacteria or yeast in the juice (simmering, campden tablets, etc)?

      This is my plan so far:
      Ingredients:
      2 gallons of juice - 1 natural, 1 pasteurized.
      Nottingham Ale Yeast on both
      Pectic Enzime at time of pitching yeast
      Yeast nutrient at the same time

      Method:
      Let both gallons ferment for 3 weeks
      Split each gallon into 2 categories: flat and bubbly
      Pitch some corn sugar into the bubbly mix at the time of bottling
      Bottle the flat cider and immediately refrigerate it

      I am hoping the bubbly cider will be ready in about 3 weeks after I pitch the sugar at which point I'll refrigerate it.

      Am I missing anything?
      I did use campden tablets. Potassium metobisulfite (the main ingredient in Camden tablets) does more then just kill bacteria. I've read that it also can help your cider clear better and should make that strong alcohol flavor dissipate.

      I'm hoping to start making a batch of mead soon along with the cider. Apparently they are very similar in ingredients and equipment. I've started getting onto some of the brewing forums. There is so much information available I could read all year and still have more to learn.
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    33. Member adrew's Avatar
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      Yesterday 08:48 PM #33
      Just did a taste test - very happy with it. It's dry like champagne and not overly sweet, decently potent and a little warm going down (by our math it is 7-8%) with very slight carbonation after resting for eight hours. We're going to let the bottles sit in a cabinet for a few days, then stick 'em in the fridge. Final cost is about 45¢ per 16 oz. Grolsch bottle.

      Last edited by adrew; Yesterday at 09:22 PM.
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