If you’re new to brewing, then hard cider is undoubtedly an excellent place to begin. Making this homemade alcoholic drink is pretty easy once you know the process and necessary ingredients.
Different people use various complex recipes. But here’s a basic and stress-free process of making hard cider right in the comfort of your kitchen.
1. Gather your ingredients and equipment
The specific ingredients to use will depend on the recipe. However, the primary ingredients you’ll need are apple juice and yeast. Every other thing you use aside from these two is optional.
Your equipment, just like your ingredients, is also dependent on the recipe and intended volume of your hard cider. But regardless, you’ll need the basics like sanitizing solutions, cappers, airlock containers, and bottles and caps.
2. Clean your equipment
Cleaning your equipment is crucial. It is not sufficient to rinse the equipment; you must wash and sanitize them. You can sanitize your brewing equipment by using a food-safe sanitizer. This process is to prevent your drink from mixing with any bacteria.
Fermentation involves the conversion of sugar in the apple juice to alcohol. More sugar implies more alcohol, so the amount of alcohol is dependent on how much sugar you add. Before fermentation, if you want to know the level of sugar (by implication, potential alcohol level) in your apple juice, you can do so by measuring the original gravity with a hydrometer.
To begin the fermentation process, pour your apple juice into the carboy (a fermentation bottle). Then add yeast to it. The amount of yeast you pour into the liquid depends on how much your apple juice is. Now, cover the carboy with the airlock and stopper. Place your stopper first on the carboy lid before the airlock. The airlock should contain a sanitizing solution.
4. Now wait
After preparing the drink for fermentation, the next thing is to wait. Fermentation will probably take about 7 to 14 days; though it takes some days to ferment fully, you will start seeing changes in a few hours. The changes usually involve the carbon dioxide gas gradually being emitting out of the airlock.
During those days, shake the carboy to let out gas, and in the last phase of the process, keep it at a standstill to allow all the particles to settle.
5. Secondary fermentation and addition of flavor
Before beginning, use a sieve to transfer the hard cider from one container to another because the particles will have settled in the bottom, and you will need to remove them. After that, begin secondary fermentation, which improves the flavor of the cider. Allowing hard cider to undergo secondary fermentation and aging for 14 to 21 days will significantly enhance its taste.
However, if you still don’t like the taste, you can refine it by adding flavors, fruits, or a specific sort of sugar during this period. After this time has passed, use a hydrometer to determine the drink’s final gravity.
You will need a bottle filler, tubing, and an auto-siphon to bottle your drink. Bottle the cider and enjoy, or you can also let it age by leaving it for a while after bottling. It gives it a much better taste.
The final and fun part is the drinking. However, when drinking the cider, be sure to take note of certain things like the taste, smell, aftertaste, sweetness, and alcohol level. It will help you make corrections next time.