How to Make Hard Cider
What You Need
10 non-twist off bottles (we like to recycle old beer bottles!) and bottle capper and caps
Or: 10 swing-top bottles
1 gallon fresh cider
3 tablespoons honey (on bottling day)
Find any cider that is pasteurized (UV pasteurized is great) and preservative free (you don’t want to use any cider that has potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate in it). Your local farmer’s market or natural grocer are great sources. Remove cider from your refrigerator and let warm to room temperature before you start making your hard cider.
If you are juicing your own apples, or using a cider that is entirely unpasturized, bring your cider to a boil and then let cool to room temperature before the next step.
Sanitization is important, but it's nothing scary. When brewing, keep everything clean so that you give your cider its best chance to succeed. So when preparing for brew day, wipe any crumbs off the counters. Move any clutter that might be in your way. Read through the rest of the instructions (at least through fermentation) so that you know what to expect. And have fun!
Dissolve half of your sanitizer packet with a gallon of water in a container. Save the second half for when you bottle.
Soak everything you are going to use, rinse with water, and let air dry on some paper towels. If it isn’t totally dry when you are ready to start don’t worry.
Keep the extra sanitizer in a container for now. Chances are you’ll want to re-sanitize something later.
Place funnel in the mouth of the fermentation jug and pour your room temperature cider into the fermenter.
“Pitch” yeast. (Toss the whole packet in.)
Shake aggressively. You’re basically waking up the yeast and getting more air into the cider.
Attach sanitized screw-top stopper to bottle. Slide rubber tubing no more than 1” (2.5 cm) into the stopper and place the other end in small bowl of sanitizer. You’ve just made a “blow-off tube”. It allows CO2 to escape.
Let sit for two or three days or until vigorous bubbling subsides. This is when fermentation is highest. You may notice bubbles and foam at the top of the cider. After bubbling calms down, clean tubing and ready your airlock.
Sanitize, then re-assemble airlock, filling up to line with sanitizer.
Insert airlock into hole in stopper.
Keep at room temperature for two weeks without disturbing other than to show off to friends. (If cider is still bubbling, leave sitting until it stops.)
In the meantime, drink cider or beer with self-closing swing tops, or ask for empties at a bar that has some. If you have a bottle capper and caps, you can save two six packs of non-twistoff bottles instead.
Check if your cider is still cloudy. If it still is, let it ferment for another week until it clears up more.
Thoroughly rinse bottles with water, removing any sediment.
Mix remaining sanitizer with water.
Fill each bottle with a little sanitizer and shake. Empty after two minutes, rinse with cold water and dry upside down.
Dissolve 3 tablespoons honey with 1/2 cup water. Pour into a sanitized pot. You will be siphoning your cider into the same pot in the next steps.
Carbonation comes from adding sugar when bottling, so if you filled your jug with less than the full gallon in the last step, use less honey when bottling. Using the full amount can result in your cider being over-carbonated.
Siphoning (It all happens pretty fast. You may want to practice on a pot of water a few times.) To see it in action first, watch Brooklyn Brew Shop’s How to Bottle video
Attach open tubing clamp to tubing.
Fill tubing with sanitizer.
Attach sanitized tubing to the short curved end of your sanitized racking cane. Attach the black tip to the other end - it will help prevent sediment from getting sucked up. It will probably be a snug fit, but you can get it on there.
Pinch tubing clamp closed.
Remove screw-cap stopper and place racking cane into jug, just above the yeast sediment at the bottom.
Lower end of tubing not connected to racking cane into sink. Suction will force the cider up and through the racking cane and tubing. Open tubing clamp, let sanitizer flow into sink until cider just starts to flow out of the tubing, then clamp shut. Open clamp on tubing, allowing cider to flow into pot with sugar solution. Tilt jug when cider level is getting low, but be careful in not sucking up the yeast sediment.
Siphon cider from pot into bottles, pinching tube clamp to stop flow after each bottle.
Store undisturbed at room temperature for 2 weeks.
5. Two Weeks Later: Enjoy!
Put bottles of cider in the fridge the night before you drink them.
Drink. Share with friends if you’re the sharing type.