Home-brewing ingredients have come a long way since making hard cider meant waiting until wild, airborne yeast stuck to apple skins and fermented the juice. Now you have fermenting caps, hydrometers and numerous varieties of brewer's yeast formulated for whatever you brew. Despite all the options, you really only need two ingredients to make hard cider: apple juice and yeast. Just about any yeast will do, even types used in bread making such as baker's yeast. The main difference between baker's yeast and champagne yeast, the type normally used for hard cider, is the mild yeasty taste it sometimes imparts.
Things You'll Need
- Pasteurized cider or apple juice
- Baker's yeast
- Swing-top glass bottles or plastic soda bottles
- Two-chamber fermentation locks or fermentation screw caps
Warm about a cup of pasteurized cider or apple juice on the stove in a saucepan over warm heat for three or four minutes, or until tepid. Baker's yeast activates at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add a scant palmful of baker's yeast, about a teaspoon, to the saucepan for every 1/2 gallon of cider you want to ferment. Whisk the cider briskly to dissolve the yeast.
Pour the dissolved yeast back in the container of cider. Cap the container and shake well to mix the yeast evenly.
Pour the cider into swing-top glass bottles or plastic soda bottles until they reach about an inch from the top with the help of a funnel.
Seal glass bottles with two-chamber fermentation locks, and seal plastic bottles with fermentation screw caps. These caps and locks allow carbon dioxide to escape during fermentation. You have to pour about a teaspoon of water in each of the chambers of the two-chamber fermentation locks.
Place the bottles in a dark room that has a temperature of about 65 to 70 F. Ferment the cider for at least four weeks to four months, or until bubbles stop floating to the top.
Cap the bottles with the plastic soda caps or the swing-top caps on the glass bottles, and place them in the refrigerator. Fermentation stops when you place the cider in the fridge.
Tips & Warnings
- You can buy fermentation locks and caps at home-brewing shops.
- Only use swing-top glass bottles or plastic soda bottles for bottling hard cider.
- Only use clean bottles to ferment in. You don't have to sterilize bottles, though, if you're only making a small batch of cider.
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