• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

simplest hard cider?  RSS feed

 
Kelda Miller
Posts: 769
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I admit, I am intimidated by purchasing all sorts of alcohol-making equipment, and though I hate plastic, I don't have any nice glass jugs, so the question is:

What is the very very simplest way of turning apple juice into hard cider?
I've heard I can just put it in a milk jug, with lid, and occasionally open the lid to release pressure. But do I have to do anything to prevent it from being apple cider vinegar?

(well, I Would like one jug of acv actually, but only one, so how do i control it?)
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I suggest that you at least invest in a few things. once you have done it you will find it is really a simple process and it will GREATLY increase the chance that you will get something that you actually like. I want to encourage you to go all out  because you are alot less likely to be dissapointed in the results or end up with a nasty moldy mess.

if you were to pursue it the way you are thinking you will possibly end up with something that has alcohol in it but you will be at the mercy of whatever yeast happens to be floating around you kitchen. wine yeasts have been developed to make good tasting wine. the stuff floating around your kitchen wasn't.  additionally, plastic can impart its flavor in the wine.

you need a glass carboy. a one gallon one will run you $8 or so (around here)

a bucket with a lid that will hold at least 1.5 gallons.

a plug and an airlock. this keeps air from your wine while allowing the release of excess gas inthe secondary fermentation, AND prevents it from becoming vinegar. vinegar is created when the aclohol in the wine oxidizes. Air is your enemy. $5

wine yeast. for cider wine I use premier couve made by red star. $2.00

a Hydrometer and a thief. together these allow you to sample the "must" and determine its sugar content by how high the hydrometer floats in it. 10$ . this is important. you must adjust the sugar so that it is high enough to boost the yeast and have a decent alcohol content in the finished wine without  overdoing it and inhibiting the growth of the yeast possbily opening the door for spoilage. also, the hydrometer allows you to determine when the yeast have consumed all the sugar and  it is safe to move to secondary fermentation or bottle.

a plastic tube to siphon the wine. the yeast will die and leave a sediment onthe bottom of the containers. you don't want to pour your wine and churn op the sediment you also don't want your wine to contact any more air than is absolutley neccesary and pouring it would stir it up alot.

The following are used anywhere from 1/4 -2 tsp per gallon and so the price becomes pennies per gallon.

campden tablets. use one crushed tablet per gallon of wine. this keeps yeast other than the desired one from hijacking your wine. 3$ for a bottle that will probablydo 50 gallons.

pectic enzyme. 2$ high  pectin content in some juices such as apple make the finished wine cloudy. doesn't hurt anything but its nice to have a crisp glass of wine at the end.

potassium sorbate. this will prevent your wine from re fermenting in the bottle and causing a minor glass flinging explosion and a big mess. 2$ .

yeast nutrient. extra yeast food! grapes naturally are the perfect inviroment for yeast to turn sugar into alcohol. some juices benefit from a little boost. I have successfully made it without but it does go faster with. 2$

acid blend. I have found that if you buy juice with an acid added (As you often do with store bought juice) you don't need this. otherwise having a slighly more acidic enviroment helps. you can buy acid test kits to determine things exactly. I never have and and it all turns out good. 2$

tannin powder. this assists in creating a tasty wine and in clearing. once again not neccesary in most grape wines but helpful in some other juices. 2$.

step. 1 -  buy 1 gallon of cider or apple juice. make sure that the only ingredient is apple juice. *an acid added is acceptable but don't add the acid blend later. sometimes I can't find any without the acid so Ihad to experiment. I always use the store brand cause its cheap!

step 2. in the bucket combine....

cider/juice
2.5 cups sugar or till you hydrometer reads 1.80 -1.85 (this will achieve about 11%-12% alcohol inthe finished wine.)
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp acid blend*
1.5 tsp pectic enzyme
1/4 tsp tannin powder
1 crushed campden tablet
optional - a handful of raisins I can't decide if thsi really makes a difference 

cover loosely to keep stuff out and allow to sit for 12- 24 hours at room temp.

step 3. - sprinkle 1/2 the yeast packet on the surface of the juice cover loosely and leave at room temp. ( awhole yeast packet will do up to 5 gallons)

step 4. check your wine daily. after a day it should have some bubbles and start smelling yeasty. after another few days It will get foamy and you will see the bubbles churning slowly if you watch long enough. depending on the temperature the first fermentation could take 2 -7 days. check every day. when you notice a drop in activity check it with the hydrometer. if it has dropped to 1.10 or lower (which is physically higher on the scale and means the top of the hydrometer will float almost under the liquid now) it is time to move on to the next step.


step 5. siphon your wine into an appropriatly sized glass carboy. (it should reach almost the top with just 1/2 inch or so to spare. if you need to add a little cool water to bring it up thats fine. ) place your plug and airlock on the top. most directions say to use the standard disinfecting agent in the air lock. I fill it 1/2 full with vinegar. I figure that keeps any nasties from growing in it just as well and I don't have to buy or use the chemical disinfectant.

step 5. anxiously await the finished wine . you can bottle it anytime after it clears but there is no hurry and a bit longer is better. For me at my home temps about 6-8 weeks is ideal but I have successfully bottled at 4. but I'm a lush and will drink anything .



to bottle it you need a few other things but you have plenty of time to get that squared away before its ready.

I have six gallons of hard cider in my pantry waiting to be bottled.


 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
if we're going for simplest cider, I think I would leave out everything but the carboy, the yeast, the stopper and airlock (though an airlock is relatively easy to build with a straw and a film cannister), and some sort of siphon for bottling.  I typically leave out the yeast, too, unless I get a stuck fermentation.  sadly, it seems I am over a year late posting this information.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ran Prieur takes a sip, and leaves it to ferment with whatever cultures were in his mouth. That gives a lot more lactic acid than ethanol, and doesn't appeal to my sensibilities, but it's far and away the simplest method I know of.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've used a condom held in place with a sturdy rubber band as a super low tech air lock.  Just release the pressure when it starts getting hilariously large.

Thanks for the detailed information, Leah!  Specially the fancy yeast recommendation. 

I've made not very hard cider with wild yeast I "caught" in the kitchen.  It was bubbly and delicious, but not very "hard".  Also definitely not vinegar.  I had really amazing fermentation luck in that kitchen though.  It was a really old row home in philly and I suspect there were good yeasts hanging around in the walls or something. 

And, not to nit pick over details, but I thought that depriving the yeast colony of air slowed down their growth so that they didn't over populate too quickly and start to die off.  That's when acetobacters have a chance to take hold, and it's their waste that gives the vinegary acid flavors. 
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And, not to nit pick over details, but I thought that depriving the yeast colony of air slowed down their growth so that they didn't over populate too quickly and start to die off.  That's when acetobacters have a chance to take hold, and it's their waste that gives the vinegary acid flavors.


yeast are aerobes, so a lot of folks agitate the fresh juice to incorporate more oxygen prior to fermentation.  I believe agitation after fermentation leads to oxidation of alcohols and buttery flavor (think port wine) and possible contamination by spoilage organisms.  too much yeast isn't a problem unless they blow out the top of your fermenter and make a mess.  fast fermentation can lead to harsh flavors, but those will age out.  I'm partial to slow fermentation because it allows primary fermentation in a carboy instead of a bucket.

acetobacter is also aerobic, but eats alcohol and poops acetic acid, at least in my understanding.  some of my favorite ales have gone a bit sour, but don't go all the way to vinegar.  I have no idea how that is accomplished.
 
charles c. johnson
Posts: 369
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
every year i go and get free apples from a friend with neglected trees. i come home wash them peel core and slice. I freeze the slices. Then i put all the peels and cores in a crock with sugar some spice water little lemon.
I let that cook till it breaks down  a little. Then I use a hydrometer to see if it needs water or more sugar. Then i add the yeast .  wine in about 6-8 weeks 
or 6 days if you used  champagne
 
charles c. johnson
Posts: 369
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe we should ask paul for a brewers forum
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's a neat way to use the apple stuff you'd otherwise compost.  What's the flavor like compared to apple juice brews?  Apple seeds contain small amounts of cyanide, I wonder if there's any way that the brewing process would extract it? 
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Apple seeds contain small amounts of cyanide


they're also delicious.  taste like almonds.  my roommate said his dad's college roommate ate a cup of pips all at once and dropped dead.  could be apocryphal.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
....yeah.....I think it'd have to be more like a gallon. But cyanide is one of those toxins that accumulates, right?  So if you ate a gallon of them over a lifetime, you'd eventually drop dead? 
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
But cyanide is one of those toxins that accumulates, right?


nope.  and it increases respiratory efficiency in small doses.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"a given amount of cyanide absorbed slowly may cause no biological effects even though the same amount administered over a very short period of time may be lethal."

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/army/mmcch/Cyanide.htm

good to know!  I'll stop worrying about our dog eating apple cores. 
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
apples are safe.  peach pits, though, have killed children and could probably do in a dog.

back to cider, though.  a couple folks have mentioned adding sugar.  I sometimes add honey, which means I'm technically making mead.  more specifically, cyser.  for years folks would choke down my cider without complaint, but nobody ever raved about it.  four years ago, I added some honey to a batch, let it sit for a year before I bottled it then forgot about it for a couple more years.  opened some up last fall and folks did rave about it.  so now I add honey.
 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I fermented my first hard cider this winter. I took a jug of storebought (but organic and unpasteurized) sweet cider (nothing in it but apples) and added one organic unwashed concord grape with the skin and must on. I put a plastic bag over the top with a rubber band and space to fill with gas, and other than occasionally tasting and skimming some white stuff off the top, I left it pretty much alone in a warmish room for about three, maybe four weeks. After that I started drinking it--it was good! Sweet at first, but it kept getting harder and drier; was thoroughly drinkable throughout.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Letting it sit around awhile seems to help a lot in most instances.  I've only ever made cherry wine (beyond my tiny batches of lazy 'cider', and the stuff we drank two years later was better than the stuff we drank a year later (drinkers raved about it both times - it was freaking good), which was miles better than the bottle opened at a couple months after bottling (no raves - tasted like typical home made wine).  The cherry flavor became more pronounced over time.  This year we'll make some more cherry wine.  Love it.  I wonder if we could can some cherry juice so we can add some to the cider in the fall?  Cherry cider sounds awesome.

Anyone ever used a steam juicer?  Our neighbors have one and we were offered grape juice made with it - amazing.  Very clear pure juice, but not at all raw, obviously.  Does pasturization of the juice effect alcohol quality?

I understand adding sugar (honey sounds awesome) to the apple peel/core brew, but do you really need to add extra sugar to straight apple juice?  There's so much sugar in it as it is!  I guess it depends on the apple variety.  I've read bitter apples actually make better cider than the ones you want to eat.  What are the apples you get from your neighbor like, tel? 
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've read bitter apples actually make better cider than the ones you want to eat.  What are the apples you get from your neighbor like, tel?


I generally make my cider out of the juice we press at work.  we've got a small orchard there with a couple of Kingston Black trees among the dessert and cooking varieties, but we don't grow nearly enough to make any substantial amount of juice.  because the juice is intended for fresh use, we use apples that make good fresh juice: Gravensteins early in the season and Jonagolds later.  buy them in 900-lb bins from a friend in the Skagit Valley.  good fresh juice doesn't lead to the best cider, though.

I like the stuff I've made with the dessert apples well enough, but most of the flavor in those apples is coming from the sugar with a little bit from acid.  after the sugar's gone, there isn't a lot of flavor left and no body and the acid is more dominant.  typically ends up being bone dry and a little hurtful if the drinker is sensitive to acid.  getting some wild yeast or other critters involved has led to some more complex flavors and malo-lactic bacteria help with the acid, but the raw material just doesn't provide much to work with.  better cider has some bitters (like you mentioned), some sharps (very tart), and maybe some sweets.  bitter and sharp apples are not nice to eat.  I added some crab apples to the last batch I made.  that improved things a bit, but I could have used a lot more of them.

I think aging improves things most if there's a lot of alcohol involved.  I don't think an unfortified cider would get much better after a year, at least not the stuff I make which tops out around 8% by volume last time I checked.  the additional alcohol from the honey livens things up quite a bit, though.  for the first few months after primary, it just tastes hot and harsh, but that mellows out after a year and after two years there's something great going on.

cherry wine sounds pretty good.  every new fruit tree I plant conjures daydreams about the alcohol I'll be able to make a few years down the road...

I understand adding sugar (honey sounds awesome) to the apple peel/core brew


sounds almost like an apple analog of grappa...

but do you really need to add extra sugar to straight apple juice?


nope.  my favorite part about cider is it's simplicity: put fresh juice in a jug and wait (actually, my favorite part is drinking it...).  adding additional sugar will bump up the abv, which is important to some folks and works fine, but it certainly isn't necessary.  some folks add raisins to add more sugar, too.  some folks add spices.  I add honey as a concession to my friends' preference.
 
charles c. johnson
Posts: 369
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not sure what kind of apples i use fuji's washingtons  and grannies i think
they have spots on then thats how you know there good
i use the seeds but i try to not cut them or mash them
i use brown sugar, honey, and white sugar, i just guess the amounts 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I understand cyanide is accumulated in the blood, specifically in hemoglobin. It's cleared safely when dead cells are broken down. If you wait long enough for all your red blood cells to be replaced, you're good as new. Carbon monoxide is very similar.

Lots of the other toxins which accumulate, do so either in fat or in bone minerals, which can be a life-long problem.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
marina and I ended up talking about cider presses in another thread (about personal care products...), and she thought I should repost here the information about the press I use at work, so here it is.  one bit of information I want to add is that some folks mix rice hulls with the pomace to increase yield by creating more juice escape routes.  we've never tried this, but the idea seems pretty solid.  others use straw for the same purpose.

Do you have a picture of the one you use at work?  Would the typical cages I've seen made of wooden slates and metal bands do the job?


I do have pictures.  and no, from how you've described your press, I don't think the cages are what you want.

pictures:

Ian (not Edward) at the helm.
Collin and I dunno who.  slightly better view of the racks.
Collin again.  better view of the cloths and racks during press.
couldn't find a good picture of filling up the cloths.

I'll try to explain the rack and cloth procedure:
we start with a polyethylene base on the bottom: 1/2" thick slab of polyethylene with an eye bolt in it to use a hook to drag the finished stack under the press.  on top of that is the first rack.  it's a flat square of polyethylene with some channels molded into it.  on top of that goes a square metal frame about two inches tall.  on top of that goes the first cloth, which drapes over the metal frame and forms a depression to fill up with pomace (milled apples).  it's bigger than the rack, so the corners extend out beyond.  once that's full of apple, we fold the corners over the top, remove the frame, add the next rack, replace the frame on the new rack, drape a cloth over it, fill it up, repeat five times.  finish with a rack on top and slide the whole mess down under the press.

this extracts a lot more juice from the apples compared to the wood/metal hoops setup.  by separating the pomace into several cloths, the proportion of juice next to an immediate exit route is increased so less juice gets trapped in the apple pomace.  the molded channels in the racks also give the juice a way out from the middle of the stack.

the racks look like this:


we've got the smallest size there.  I'm guessing it's about 18" square.  I believe we got our cloths and racks from Oesco.  I'll go ahead and warn you that they aren't cheap.  they do last a long time, though.  if your press doesn't look at all like ours, I may be giving you bad information.
 
                            
Posts: 22
Location: Cholula, Mexico
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm a bit late for this thread I'm afraid, but I thought I'd share my own experience. I once made an incredibly simple "cider" just by juicing local criollo apples in my blender, then leaving them to ferment in a large jug with wild yeasts from my kitchen (3 days exposure to air, covering the mouth of the jug with cheese cloth) and releasing the excess air every so often so the jug wouldn't explode. I let everything ferment for about 10 days, and when everything stilled I added a bit of cinnamon and star anise, drank some and let some age. It came out quite well (perhaps filtering would have improved the texture) and lasted perfectly for a couple months, no vinagery-ness at all! 
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!