How to Tell When Hard Cider Is Ready to Bottle


Apple cider that has been fermented to an approximate 6-percent alcohol content is known as hard cider. If you already have home-brewing experience, you will likely use the same steps and equipment that you would use when making ale, wine or mead. After fermentation of the cider, bottling is the next step.

Things You'll Need

  • Siphon
  • Sanitized bucket
  • Two-gallon fermentation container with air lock
  • Bottles with caps
  • A couple of days after putting your cider into the jug for fermentation, you should see bubbling in the airlock, which lets you know that fermentation has begun. This fermenting can last anywhere from several days to a few weeks, depending on how much fermentable sugar is present. One rule of thumb is that when all activity has ceased in the airlock, you can be pretty sure that fermentation has stopped. If you have an airlock, you’ll notice when it no longer bobs, which typically takes about two weeks if you are fermenting at room temperature. Colder temperatures will take longer; higher temperatures will require a much shorter time but may hinder fermentation.

  • Once fermentation has ceased, you can bottle it or move it to a secondary fermentation vessel, which will help flavors to age. If you do not wish to allow flavors of the cider to mellow a bit, then this is a good time to bottle your cider. You may re-use beer bottles that have pry-off tops, not twist off, or wine bottles that can be capped. Clean and sanitize the bottles so that former liquids still lingering in the bottles don't interfere with the taste of your cider.

  • To bottle your cider, siphon it off into a clean, sanitized bucket, and then siphon off into the bottles. Bottling buckets are available at some stores, and just like with the bottles, you need to be sure that the bucket has been sanitized so that nothing interferes with the taste of your cider. Now that your cider has been bottled, you may choose to drink it right away or stash some away to continue the aging process, and experiment to see what flavors develop over time.

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