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Hard cider


Prep time20 minutes


Make hard cider at home in small batches



Hard Cider
Hard Cider History: The making of hard cider has been a way of preserving ones harvest and providing a sometimes-refreshing beverage for hundreds of years. No special equipment was needed other then a few wooden barrels and a shared cider press. The fruit used was usually a mixture of crab apple, wild apple, pear, and eating apples that were damaged and could not be stored. The process was not fully understood and often hit or miss. The end product good or bad was consumed for the rest of the year.

The following is an easy to follow method with minimal equipment, which will allow the novice to obtain consistent results. After gaining confidence with the basics one may go on to pressing and blending his own apples.
Equipment: 3-lt. Glass wine bottle, air lock with stopper, three scale hydrometer, plastic siphon hose, .5-lt plastic bottle and bottles of your choice for the finished cider.
Ingredients: One Gal. Fresh apple cider, one pkg. Champagne yeast, campden tablets, honey or sugar and peptic enzyme (optional).
Method: Allow cider to come up to room temperature. Sterilize all equipment with one step wash, washing soda or 2 campdon tablets dissolved in a Gal. of warm water. If you are concerned with wild yeast in your cider dissolve two campden tablets in a small amount of cider and add to the Gal. allow from 3 to 24 hr. for it to work. Dissolve 1/3 pkg. of yeast in 1/4. Cup of warm (95Deg.)-Spring water. Use the hydrometer to check the of the raw cider it should be about 1055 or a potential alcohol of 6% if not add sugar or honey to bring it to that level. 21/2 ounces of sugar will raise the gravity of one Gal. of juice 5 deg..
If you are using pasteurized cider you may want to add 10 drops of peptic enzyme at this time for a clearer end product.
Fill 3lt. Glass bottle half way with cider then add dissolved yeast then finish filling with cider to within an inch of the top.
Store remaining cider in plastic bottle for later use.
Fill air lock half way with water and install in neck of bottle.
Place fermenting cider in some thing to catch possible overflow and keep in a cool(60 to 70 deg.f) dark place. Check often during fermentation. Cider may foam up and overflow. This is normal if so clean air lock, refill half full with water and replace. In 7 to 14 days when bubbling slows or stops check with hydrometer again if is 1.010 or 1.020 the first fermentation is finished and cider may be siphoned to another bottle being careful not to disturb sediment on bottom. Use reserved cider to top off bottle to 1/2 inch of top and reinstall air lock.

Allow to rest for a week or two, then rack into smaller bottles for aging. You may drink the hard cider at this time but it will be rough and lack flavor but it will pack a punch. A sparkling cider may be had by racking into sound champagne bottles and adding a teaspoon and a half of sugar. Be sure to wire corks well and be careful when opening. Allow at least one bottle from each batch you make to age a year or two and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks: Mr. Ben Watson for sharing his knowledge at N.O.F.A. summer conference 2000 and Mr. Ken Windt at KEDCO wine storage systems.

Resources: Books Cider, Hard and Sweet: History Traditions and Making Your own by Ben Watson (Countryman Press, 1999).

Supplies: KEDCO wine making supplies, 564 Smith St. Farmingdale, NY 11735-1168 631 454 7800 Local family run business well stocked with personal service.

A cider web site: The Real Cider and Perry Page

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Organic Greg

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