CIdermaking at home is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to make your own alcohol. The key to delicious cider, is, of course, the apples! A crisp, sweet, well-rounded cider is made from a variety of apples. Our batch of cider used an old English variety (too old for me to even know what type of apples they are) mixed with Red Delicious, Cortland and some green apples. Very specific, I know. Each press was a different mixture of the apples and tasted a bit different. There are 100s of apples recommended for cidermaking.
If you don’t have access to apples, unpasteurized juice can be used to make natural hard cider. Because of some (quite exaggerated) cases of sickness from people drinking real cider, finding unpasteurized apple juice can be a difficult task. Local orchards, farmers markets, or natural food markets may sell unpasteurized cider. Red Jack Orchards sells jugs of unpasteurized apple cider, when it is in season.
The ultimate way to make your own cider is pressing the apples yourself with a hydraulic cider press, or a screw-type wine press. Luckily we have access to a homemade hydraulic cider press! So, after your apples have been picked and cleaned, the next step is to sanitize, clean, scrub, and wash every inch of the equipment. (Most boring step!)
6. Carboys are filled from the holding tank with the fresh pressed juice.
7. The pressed pomace is composted.
DID YOU KNOW?!
Only in North America does the word cider refer to primarily the unfermented, fresh-pressed juice. Throughout the rest of the world, cider indicates an alcoholic beverage.
Now the fun part: MAKING APPLE JUICE INTO HARD CIDER
The absolute easiest way possible:
-Fill a fermentation vessel- jug or carboy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in a cool location out of direct sunlight.
– In a few days, the cider will begin to bubble, froth, and foam over. Clean the sides of the container every day. Once this fast fermentation subsides, usually a week or so, depending on temperature. Fit the jug with a fermentation lock filled with water. Let the vessel ferment for another month or two. Siphon off the cider into a clean vessel, leaving the sediment, or lees, behind. Let the cider mellow for another month, then it should be ready to bottle! Taste test the cider and make sure you like the flavor!
…Getting a little more creative:
Tomorrow I will show you the experiments we did with varying yeast strains, killing the wild yeast, adding flavoring, spices, and using different sugar sources (including mini marshmallows!)
Have you ever made your own cider?! What is your favorite recipe?