What Is Apple Cider? How to Make Apple Cider

What Is Apple Cider? How to Make Apple Cider

Apple Cider making at home can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, allowing you to create a beverage tailored to your taste. This detailed guide covers everything you need to know about making apple cider, from selecting ingredients to the step-by-step preparation process.

What Is Apple Cider?

Apple cider is a type of non-alcoholic beverage made from freshly pressed apples. It is typically unfiltered and may contain bits of apple pulp, giving it a cloudy appearance. Apple cider is great cold, but it can also be heated on the stove and flavored with a dash of your preferred kind of cinnamon to make it a cozy, warm beverage. It can also be used to create cocktails with a holiday theme. 

What Is Apple Cider?

What is the Difference Between Apple Cider And Apple Juice?

Here is a table comparing apple cider and apple juice:

Apple Cider

Apple Juice

Made from freshly-pressed apples

Made from filtered and pasteurized apple juice

May contain bits of apple pulp

Does not contain any pulp

Typically unfiltered and cloudy

Clear and transparent

Often served hot and spiced

Usually served cold

Has a sweet and tangy taste

Has a sweeter taste

Apple Cider Vs Apple Juice

Ingredients and Equipment

Ingredients

  • Fresh apple juice (5-6 gallons)
  • Sugar (optional, for sweetening)
  • Cider yeast or champagne yeast
  • Campden tablets (optional, for sterilization)
  • Yeast nutrient (optional)

Equipment

  • Primary fermenter (food-grade plastic bucket or glass carboy)
  • Airlock and bung
  • Hydrometer (for measuring specific gravity)
  • Sanitizer (e.g., Star San)
  • Siphon tubing
  • Bottles and caps/corks
  • Bottle capper or corker
  • Funnel

Preparation Step-by-Step

Step 1: Juice Selection

  • Fresh Juice: Use freshly pressed apple juice for the best flavor. If using store-bought juice, ensure it has no preservatives.
  • Apple Varieties: A blend of sweet, tart, and aromatic apples yields the best results. Common varieties include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Gala.

Step 2: Sterilization

  • Sanitize Equipment: Thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment to prevent contamination.
  • Sterilize Juice (optional): Add Campden tablets (one per gallon) to the juice and let it sit for 24 hours to kill any wild yeasts and bacteria.

Step 3: Primary Fermentation

  • Transfer Juice: Pour the apple juice into the primary fermenter using a funnel.
  • Check Specific Gravity: Use a hydrometer to measure the starting specific gravity (SG). The ideal SG is around 1.050-1.060.
  • Add Yeast: Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the juice. If using yeast nutrients, add them according to the package instructions.
  • Fermentation Setup: Attach the airlock and bung to the fermenter. Place the fermenter in a cool, dark area (60-75°F).

Step 4: Fermentation Monitoring

  • Active Fermentation: Fermentation will start within 24-48 hours. You’ll see bubbles in the airlock and froth on the surface.
  • Duration: Primary fermentation typically lasts 1-2 weeks, depending on temperature and yeast activity.
  • Completion: Fermentation is complete when bubbling stops and the specific gravity stabilizes around 1.000 or lower.

Step 5: Racking

  • Transfer: Use sanitized siphon tubing to transfer the cider from the primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter, leaving sediment behind.
  • Airlock: Attach an airlock to the secondary fermenter to allow further settling and clarification.

    Step 6: Secondary Fermentation

    • Duration: Secondary fermentation and aging can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the desired flavor and clarity.
    • Storage: Keep the fermenter in a cool, dark place during this period.

    Step 7: Sweetening (Optional)

    • Back Sweetening: If you prefer sweet cider, add sugar or apple juice concentrate to taste. If sweetening, add potassium sorbate to prevent renewed fermentation.

    Step 8: Bottling

    • Sanitize Bottles: Clean and sanitize bottles, caps, or corks.
    • Siphon: Carefully siphon the cider into bottles, leaving about an inch of headspace.
    • Seal: Cap or cork the bottles using a bottle capper or corker.
    • Carbonation (Optional): For sparkling cider, add priming sugar (1 teaspoon per bottle) before sealing.

      Step 9: Conditioning

      • Aging: Store bottled cider in a dark, cool place for at least a few weeks to allow flavors to mature.
      • Carbonation Check: If you added priming sugar, check carbonation levels by opening a bottle after 1-2 weeks. Adjust storage time as needed.

      Apple Cider Recipes

      Basic Hard Cider Recipe

      • 5 gallons of fresh apple juice
      • 1 packet cider yeast or champagne yeast
      • 5 Campden tablets (optional)
      • Yeast nutrient (optional)

      Instructions

      • Step 1: Sanitize all equipment.
      • Step 2: Pour apple juice into the fermenter.
      • Step 3: Add Campden tablets if using, wait 24 hours.
      • Step 4: Sprinkle yeast and add yeast nutrients if using.
      • Step 5: Attach the airlock and ferment for 1-2 weeks.
      • Step 6: Rack into the secondary fermenter and age for several weeks to months.
      • Step 7: Bottle, cap, and condition for at least two weeks before drinking.
      Apple Cider Recipes

      Sweet Cider Recipe

      • Follow the basic hard cider recipe.
      • After secondary fermentation, add sugar syrup (1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup water) to taste.
      • Add potassium sorbate to prevent fermentation of added sugar.
      • Bottle and condition as per the basic recipe.

      Hot Apple Cider

      Ingredients

      • 10 apples
      • 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar
      • 4 Tablespoons cinnamon
      • 4 Tablespoons allspice
      • 16 cups water
      • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (to make caramel apple cider)

      Directions

      • Step 1: Quarter apples and remove  core.
      • Step 2: In a large pot, add apple slices and water.
      • Step 3: Add spices and sugar and bring to simmer over medium heat.
      • Step 4: Cover simmering pot with lid and simmer for two hours.
      • Step 5: Stir mixture and then strain through fine-mesh sieve. Discard solids. Line sieve with cheesecloth and strain again.
      • Step 6: To make caramel apple cider, add 1/2 cup caramel sauce.
      • Step 7: Serve warm.

      Frequently Asked Question

      What are the Best Apples for Cider?

      Apples with a mix of different varieties work best for cider. A careful blend of various apple varieties produces just the right amount of tartness and sweetness. Some people like their apple cider tart, even though traditional apple cider is more on the sweet side. Choose Cortland, Golden Delicious, and Gala apples for sweet cider. Braeburn, Jonathan, and McIntosh are excellent options for a tart cider. Combine the following types of apples to make a concoction that has the sweetness and acidity you want:

      • Jonathan Apples
      • Harrison Apples
      • Cortland Apples
      • McIntosh Apples
      • Honeycrisp Apples
      • Campfield Apples
      • Goldrush Apples
      • Gala Apples

      Is Apple Cider Alcoholic?

      No, apple cider is a non-alcoholic beverage made from freshly-pressed apples. However, it can be fermented to make hard cider, which does contain alcohol. It is important to check the label of any apple cider product to confirm if it is alcoholic or not.

      Conclusion

      Making apple cider at home is a gratifying process that allows for customization and creativity. By following these steps and recipes, you can craft a delicious cider suited to your taste preferences. Enjoy the journey of cider making and savor the fruits of your labor!



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