How to brew hard cider

Traditionally Hard Cider was brewed using the wild yeasts already present in unpasteurized cider, the problem with this is the results were very unpredictable. The recipe below uses a campden tablet to kill the wild yeasts and then we add in Champagne yeast for a more predictable result.

My grandfather suggested that the next batch I make to include a package of raisins into the mix while it ferments. He said this adds a great flavor to the hard cider. He should know as hard cider was much more popular in his generation. Have any of you home-brewers out there heard of this? He said his father would place cider into an oaken wine barrel and pour an obscene amount of raisins into the barrel and let it sit until it became hard.

Recipe

The below items are “per gallon”
1/3 lb sugar
Please checkout this resource for converting to cups
In this case it is 2/3 cup approximately (per pound). I used raw organic sugar.

1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
1/2 tsp Energizer
1 campden tablet

Yeast is “per batch”
1 pkg Champ. Yeast

  1. Put juice in primary fermentor
  2. Add campden tablets and pectic enzyme immediately
  3. Stir in all other ingredients except for the yeast
  4. Cover primary fermentor
  5. Wait 24 hours
  6. Add yeast and recover primary fermentor
  7. Stir Daily
  8. check gravity after 3 days up till 5 days. Look for a gravity of 1.040
  9. Move to secondary fermentor siphon off the sediment – if you have only one fermentor then put into a temporary 5 gallon bucket (ordinary one from hardware store) clean the primary and then move back to the primary
  10. Attach Air-lock
  11. Lets sit for 3 weeks and look for gravity of 1.00
  12. Add 1/4 cup of dissolved sugar per gallon of cider and then bottle it

To make wine

At step 11 siphon off to another clean secondary fermentor. Let sit for additional 2 months. Siphon again if necessary, wine should start to become clear before bottling.

Adventures in Home brewing

  • First of all I hate most commercially brewed hard ciders such as “wood chuck” however I really enjoyed my own brew, and not just due to the sense of satisfaction that comes along with having done it myself. It is legit.
  • When I emailed my uncle the recipe I accidentally forgot the forward slash in “1/2” and sent him instead “12”. He got to 8 tsp of energizer and decided something was rotten in Denmark. I called the home-brew supply store and they said his brew should be fine, but more dry than normal. I don’t know the results of his brew yet as he is out of the country.
  • I added more sugar than the above recipe called for when I bottled my cider. I’m not sure if that is why my cider has become super carbonated. When I shot the video the carbonation was perfect, however by now it takes me almost a full 10 minutes to open one bottle.
  • I gave away a bottle to my business partner Keith at Savvior Technology Solutions and gave him a warning that there might be a bit of extra carbonation. At this point I wasn’t aware of how bad the problem was, when he opened the bottle it proceeded to explode like champagne after a Super Bowl victory and painted his desk, which included many bills to be mailed out. Looks like the corporate Amex bill is getting paid covered in hard cider residue.

Author: Nick-LaDieu

Webmaster of SaveOurSkills.com. Budding skill enthusiast and modern survivalist. When nick isn't plotting his next project he is probably running with his dogs, riding his mountain bike, or fiddling with his home theater.

  • Avery

    I enjoy the theme, website and the recipe for hard cider, thanks!

  • Night Walker

    Based on batches I’ve made in the past, you’re making a great start. Consistent carbonation is tricky as a new brewer; once you’ve made a couple of batches, you’ll fall “into the groove” with how much (as well as what type of) priming sugar to use.

    One recommendation: not a lot of beginning brewers will have kitchen scales yet… for any weight-measurements you provide in recipes (home brew, dehydrating, etc.), also provide a conversion to cups.

    NW

  • NW – thanks for the tip, i modified my recipe.

  • NW – any tips for a more reliable carbonation? My co-worker who took some home said he let it fizzle for almost 10 minutes before cracking it open, and I was blamed also for many burps this morning 😀

    He did enjoy it though

  • Hey Nick a lot of wine recipes call for raisins to be added. I don’t know of it adds tannin or competing yeasts but it does seem to improve the taste a bit.

  • hoobajoob

    and now you can make apple jack! just set a batch out in a barrell over night when it gets down to freazing and take out the ice in the morrining , repaet 3-10 times and 20-40 poof ice distiled booze. and boy is it tasty

  • hoobajoob… what exactly is going in the barrel? You take the un-bottled hard cider and do it with that? Do you cover the cider air tight while it is out getting frozen?

  • hoobajoob

    yup it works better with still cider. oh and rember the best home brew addvice i ever got “relax and have a homebrew”

  • hoobajoob

    btw that seems like alot of white sugar to put in, I like to bring my gravity up with honey, a bit more expensive but much better taste.

  • hoobajoob – That is a great idea. I plan to start keeping bees next year and that would be a great thing for my fall hard cider

  • hoobajoob

    have you thought about keging your cider? your home brew store should have 1/2 gal to 10 gal kegs, if not google is king

  • It is a good point, i have heard you can do this pretty cheap with soda kegs

  • hoobajoob

    i was thinking wooden kegs for more of an aged cider

  • That would defiantly be the most authentic method. Great idea.

    -Nick

  • Mark B

    Watch Craigtube on youtube. He has been brewing for a long time. He says raisens or prunes are used for nutrients for the yeast. Check him out, be warned he is a little out there.