Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making Hard Cider

It's been a while but I finally decided to brew up some alcoholic beverages. I was at the local grocery store and noticed that they had gallons of cheap, organic apple cider in glass jugs. I just couldn't help myself. On the way home I stopped by the local homebrew store to pick up a rubber stopper that would fit the jug and a packet of wine yeast. You can use bread yeast but the flavors that will result will be much stronger. Different strains of brewers yeast will impart different flavors to the finished product.

Calling it brewing is a bit of a stretch. I just dropped the blowoff tube and rubber stopper in some boiling water to sanitize them, popped the cap off of the jug and pitched about 1/2 a teaspoon of yeast. Then I installed the stopper with the blowoff tube and put the other end of the tube in a jar with some water. This allows air to leave the jug without allowing any air in. You would usually sanitize everything but since the jug is already sanitized from the factory I just didn't feel it was necessary. The blowoff tube is there because I expect some violent yeasty action. A simple airlock just doesn't quite cut it when the yeast really goes nuts and wants to cause an overflow. After a few days when (hopefully) everything calms down I'll transfer it to another gallon jug and install an airlock.

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Even if the cider ends up tasting like crap I can always just use it as vinegar and reuse the jug for small batch wine making. I only used about 1/3 of the yeast packet so if I make a starter with what's left it should be enough for a full batch. If it turns out good then I can only hope that my local grocery store has some more of that cider left.


NUCCjollygreen said...

Check the label on the bottle that the cider came in, and make sure that it doesn't have potassium sorbate listed as one of the ingredients.

Potassium Sorbate is a preservative that interrupts the yeast respiration/reproduction process, so if it's in your cider already, you'll never get it to ferment.

The Urban Survivalist said...

Yeah I forgot to mention that. It has no preservatives so I assume that it was UV pasteurized. It's bubbling up nicely so hopefully it'll turn out OK.

Anonymous said...

I have made hard cider. Your tube in jar isn't needed. A simple piece of plastic wrap around the top, secured by a rubber band will do. It will bulge slightly as gas pressure is created and keep air out. Also, I suggest champagne yeast.

Eddieapoc said...

Ive also made cider once. It came out a little bitter so we ended up adding sugar. In the end we added too much so if you go that route take it easy. We used brewers yeast as well so maybe you will have better luck the first time around.

The Urban Survivalist said...

I probably should have added at least half a cup of sugar. I expect it to turn out super dry. I'll be bottling it in grolsch bottles just because I have some that I've never used.

NUCCjollygreen said...

Concur on the Champaigne yeast - I've mostly used Lalvin EC-1118 for my cider, and been very happy with the outcome. It tolerates up to 18% ABV, and leaves it pretty dry without much residual sugar - more like "Strongbow" vice a 'Woodchuck" - really depends on what kind of cider you're looking to make.

I normally don't add any extra sugar for fermentation, unless you REALLY want to elevate the ABV. I have added extra brown sugar once, and it came out quite potent; mixed with a can of pumpkin pie mix and some spices in secondary fermnetation, it makes a great holiday drink - just don't drink too many!

I would also recomment picking up some yeast nutrient/energizer - the yeasties need the extra nitrogen for the best respiration (and ultimately, the best cider!).