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How to Make Apartment-Scale Hard Cider (adapted from Philly Homebrew Outlet)

Author: Alex Jones

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon of fresh-pressed or store-bought juice no preservatives like sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate
  • Yeast I used about half of a 9g packet of Mangrove Jack's M02, specifically for cider making; your friendly homebrew supplier can help you choose a good strain
  • 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
  • 6 ounces wildflower honey or 4.4 ounces white or brown sugar by weight; this quantity of additional sugar should boost the booziness by about 2% ABV to around 6%-8%
  • Optional: 12 grams white sugar for carbonation step

Special equipment (all included in the Philly Homebrew Outlet 1 Gallon Cider Making Kit):

  • Two-gallon food-grade plastic bucket with lid and hole for airlock
  • One-gallon glass jug
  • Jug stopper with hole for airlock
  • Airlock
  • Auto-siphon and plastic tubing for racking
  • Growlers or wine bottles with corks for still cider
  • Swing-top bottles cappable beer bottles, or PET soda bottles with caps (for sparkling cider)

Instructions

Primary Fermentation

  • Make sanitizer solution by mixing bleach and cool water at a ratio of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water. Sanitize all equipment that will come into contact with your cider by letting it sit in the sanitizer solution for two minutes, then wipe with a clean towel or air dry.
  • If adding sugars, heat a small amount of cider in a sanitized vessel and dissolve the sugar. Add to the two-gallon bucket.
  • Dissolve the pectic enzyme in a small amound of cider and add to the bucket, then add the remaining cider.
  • Once the temperature of the cider in the bucket is below 75 degrees F, sprinkle on the yeast. Close the lid, fill the airlock to the line with water, and insert the airlock snugly in the hole in the lid.
  • Allow cider to ferment at room temperature for one to three weeks.

Secondary Fermentation

  • Move the bucket of cider to an elevated location, like a tabletop or counter, 48 hours before you plan to rack so that any sediment disturbed in the process has time to settle before racking.
  • When you're ready to rack, sanitize all equipment that will come in contact with the cider. Run hot water over one end of the plastic tubing until it's pliable enough to fit over the short end of the racking cane. Attach the long end of the racking cane to the auto siphon and practice siphoning using sanitizer until you feel confident moving liquid with the siphon.
  • Place the gallon jug lower than the bucket (on the floor or, if that's too low, on a stable chair, stool, apple crate, etc.) so the liquid will siphon efficiently. Put the plastic tubing end of the siphon into the jug, ensuring that you won't pull it out of the jug when pumping the siphon. Place the siphon end halfway into the bucket of cider, taking care not to disturb or suck up the sediment at the bottom of the bucket. Pump the siphon a few times to start the action, carefully lowering the siphon into the bottom of the bucket as the liquid level drops, taking care not to disturb or agitate the sediment while doing so.
  • Once siphoning is completed, place the stopper and the airlock (filled with water to the line) onto the jug and allow to ferment at room temperature for another two to four weeks.

Bottling

  • To make still cider, sanitize siphoning equipment, bottles, and caps. Move the jug to an elevated surface, then siphon as described above into growlers or wine bottles, taking care to pinch off the siphon when the liquid level in the bottle is 1 inch away from the stopper. Cap and store in the refrigerator; plan to drink any bottles that are not full first, as additional headspace in the bottle will cause the cider to oxidize quickly.
  • To make sparkling cider, sanitize bucket, siphoning equipment, bottles, and all other equipment that will come into contact with the cider.
  • Calculate how much additional sugar to add based on the volume of cider you're brewing. Aim for approximately 2.5 volumes of carbon dioxide. In this recipe, I used 12 grams of white sugar. Dissolve this amount of sugar in a small amount of water and add to the bucket.
  • Siphon the cider from the jug into the bucket to allow the sugar to mix with the cider.
  • Elevate the bucket with the cider and additional sugar and place the tube end of the siphon into a sanitized bottle below. Place the siphon into the elevated bucket and start the siphon. Keep a close eye on the liquid level in the bottle and pinch the tube to stop the flow of cider when the level is one inch below where the bottle stopper will be.
  • Remove the siphon tube, keeping it pinched shut, and insert into the next bottle. Repeat this process until bottles are filled with one inch of headspace.
  • Cap your bottles and store in a cooler (to contain any popped bottles) at room temperature for two more weeks to carbonate.
  • If any have more than one inch of headspace, chill and drink those now or refrigerate so that oxidation from too much headspace doesn't damage the cider.