If you have access to a lot of free apples, you can easily make cider from them. Any apples will do, but they should be as ripe as possible. This instructable shows you a simple method that does not require any special equipment.

Update Oct 2014 - In response to popular demand, I have just published an extra Instructable about how to make the press in step 4. Just wood, a few plastic containers and a car jack - cheap but very effective :)


Step 1: Collecting your apples

The first thing is to get some apples.  You will need quite a lot of large containers, because you need to collect about 4 to 5 times the volume of apples compared to the volume of juice you want to make into cider.  The container shown here is a 5 gallon (22 litre) fermentation bin.  

A sheet or blanket is also handy. Put your sheet under the tree, climb up the tree and shake it.  Lots fall off.  The advantage of this method is that generally the ripest apples tend to fall off, and seriously under-ripe apples stay on.  When you put them into the bucket, pick the apples up by hand, so you don't get all the twigs, leaves, earwigs etc.

Fizzy cider
wow, that looks like it worked nice!
It was party time in the village from the original 15 gallon I managed 5 gallon of 6%sweet flat 2gallon of17%blow your head off 40 500ml bottles at 9% and 3gallon I put into champers bottles for a bit of fizziness<br>The apples were free the sugar was &pound;5 $7.5 three bags of yeast &pound;1.75 can't beat that <br>My philosophy is it ain't wasted when you persevere and do something with it<br>Word is now out and cider is number 1 and apple crumble is now number 2<br>Happy boozing people
<p>I love that you pushed it in various directions. Good stuff. </p><p>Always happy to see pics of stuff made, so feel free to post some more in comments...</p>
<p>Hope someone can help. I have 20L of pressed apple juice in a fermenting bucket however have been unable to get the fermentation process started ( despite adding three lots of wine yeast and also some sugar) I did sterilise the juice as suggested however left it for over 24hrs before adding the yeast. The juice does taste quite acidic. Does anyone know if this would affect the fermentation process and does anyone have any suggestions (polite please) about what to do</p>
<p>Bring the temp up to 25c give the mix 30second stir with a food mixer start a pack of bread yeast in a tall glass of warm water with two table spoons caster sugar when yeast has expanded to top of glass throw it in lid on bubbler in, keep temp steady at 25c by morning it should be bubbling crazy failing that you have put too much PS and it keeps killing your yeast.</p>
<p>thanks for the advice. Will give it a go and let you know the result</p>
<p>How are we doing?</p><p>Don't worry about acidity you can back sweeten it with juice out a carton later. I myself are running 3x5 gallons at present 1 of juice and 2 from the pulp, the juice gave me a SG of 1055 which is normal the pulp gave me SG of1030 which I syrup'ed up to 1080 to produce a scrumpy with floaters. I am on day 10 at moment with the pulp two finishing off at .985 which will give me a very dry cider at just over 12.8% I will back sweeten it with quality apple juice down to 9% then bottle. The juice one is a bit slower and at present is just at 1010 I will bring this down to 1005 which will give me a medium sweet and once clear will bottle. All were started at same time with a turbo yeast with a room temp of 22c. The pulp was mixed 50/50 to water </p><p>I sterilize with the same stuff you use for baby's bottles which doesn't need dried off I do not sterilise the juice till after fermentation with one Camden tablet which is plenty for 5 gallons </p>
<p>update. </p><p>The sg is now .994 however there still seems to be some small bubbles appearing on the surface. I assume that it is still fermenting. Is it still too early to start the bottling process?</p>
<p>The key thing to note now is how fast it is changing. If the SG doesn't change in a few days, it is so close to finished you should be OK to prime and bottle<br><br>What I sometimes do in this case is to rack (siphon) the cider off the lees (the yeast sludge at the bottom). The remaining cider will still have enough yeast in to continue if it needs to, but it will be clearer when you bottle it. </p>
<p>Hopefully final question. I now have 30 bottles of cider that have been clearing for just over a week. I put half a teaspoon of sugar in each to start the secondary fermentation process. Should I have seen some response in the bottle?</p>
<p>thanks for the reply. I think I will rack it off tomorrow and then leave it a few days to see if the sg stays the same or the the fermentation process stops</p>
<p>we are fermenting well, lots of activity. I haven't tested the SG however it now tastes sweet so not certain how it will turn out. We live and learn. Thanks for the advice</p>
<p>Excellent - it will be about a week before it has got near to finishing, but it will slow down. Even if you haven't taken an original gravity reading, it is best to know the gravity is 1000 or below when you think about bottling. It's worth getting a hydrometer. They are cheap and can save the uncertainty.</p>
<p>You can choose to neutralise some of the acidity if you know the juice is really acidic. Adding some chalk (calcium carbonate) will do this, but it is best to do before fermentation</p>
<p>A useful guide, I'm about to have a go. How much sodium metabisulphite needs to be added, say per gallon?</p>
Hi, <br><br>Thanks - hope it works for you.<br>If you make some, post a pic in a comment. Always good to see.<br><br>On metabisulphite, I normally only feel you need about 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons. You don't need loads<br>You can use Camden tablet which are 1 per gallon. Like a measured dose
<p>Thank you for your instructions, very easy to follow. I have about 8dessert apple trees and this year I threw away about 6wheelbarrows of apples, so next year I will try to make cider following your advice. And before I invest in an apple press, I will try to make one of your design and see how I get on.</p>
Thanks - the first cider I made was actually juice that seeped out of apples I left in a bin and forgot. It fermented by itself. Was surprisingly just about drinkable. <br><br>Next year just go for it. I'm sure you'll get something good out of it
<p>Just a couple of questions, how could i adapt this recipe for a soft cider? I feel like preserving it would be a bit of a hassle. also, how would one add carbonation to a soft version without yeast? does the sodium meta-sulfate add any sort of salt to the mixture, or is the resulting salt insoluble? Ty for anytime taken to answer.</p>
Hi. My cider has nearly finished fermenting. Im planning on moving it into a clean vessel and adjusting the taste. How long do you leave it after the initial fermentation before bottling. ie. How long does it stay in the new vessel or does it not matter?<br>Thanks
<p>No timescale What is your FG? how sweet do you want it ?.Has the yeast settled to the bottom ? is it clear ? Unless you use a turbo Klar which clears in 24hours natural clearing can take weeks .All this before you bottle!</p>
Hi. Initial gravity was 1044 and over a week later its down to 1002. I transferred it to another vessel with an airlock to clear. Unfortunately ive got it in a plastic bucket so cannot keep an eye on its progress. (Learning point for next time). I want it medium sweet and putting sugar to prime in bottles. Is a level tsp per 500ml bottle about right? There was plenty of dead yeast at bottom
<p>yes, I agree with WillY7. the main thing is knowing it's finished fermenting so that adding priming sugar is the only way it will get more fermentation going. If you bottle it before it has stopped you can't be sure how much pressure will form in the bottle. </p><p>Pretty much, let it stop, then filter off and leave settle to allow to clear a bit, then add some priming sugar</p>
<p>Hey, how much of the sodium metabisulphite do you add to the juice? I'm making my first attempt to this cider business some time soon and I was wondering if too much or too little would be bad..? I read somewhere that it could be poisonous if taken orally, so I'm guising too much isn't good. What ratio do you use? Thanks!</p>
<p>The sodium metabisulphate that releases sulphur dioxide is not something to ear, but is not anywhere near seriously poisonous for the sort of contact you make in cider making. The gas itself is irritant to your lungs (never try sniffing the powder - you'll get a nasty shock!)<br></p><p>I don't worry to much. I use about a third of a teaspoon in 5 gallons. Don't use loads and loads or it will taste vile</p><p><br>You can get something called camden tablets that are mainly sodium metabislphate. the advantage is they are easy to use s you use one per gallon.</p>
Hi I hope you get this as for some reason the website wouldn't let me write my own comment :(. I'm a complete novice at making cider but I have made other alcoholic drinks (ale, mead etc) and I know hygiene is important. My dad built a press for me but he's used mainly metal, I told him all the presses I have seen are made of wood but you know how dads are. My main concern is that he has used rusty scaffolding tubes which come into contact with the juice. Is there anything I can do to ensure the juice is hygienic despite the materials he has used? <br><br>Would really appreciate some advice.
<p>Hi there,</p><p>in one sense the metal is probably not a health concern unless they were dirty with something - if so you could wash them. The main concern would be in getting iron in contact with the acidic juice that might make it taste metallic. Iron is not that reactive, but apple juice is quite acidic, so there will be some risk.</p><p>You could do something like putting plastic bags or clingfilm round the poles. or other metal surfaces. That would greatly reduce the contact while you do the pressing. Even if it didn't completely eliminate it, it would be much less risky</p>
Thank you that's awesome, I'll get it wrapped up in cling film :)
I've got the Campden tablets, going to give it a go this weekend (:<br><br>Quick question: I've got this old water bottle (8L), can I use this?<br>I'm going to get a carboy (?) bottle but I can't seem to find one that isn't really expensive... So I thought maybe I can use this till I got a subsitute. <br><br>Thanks for replying so fast by the way (:
<p>that was meant to say not something to EAT, by the way!</p>
Hi. Im looking to make about 5litres for my first attempt. Does the size of the fermentation bucket matter? ie will it be a problem if I ferment 5litres in a 10 litre bucket?
<p>Hi, sorry for taking ages to reply. It is best to ferment in large amounts (like 10+ litres, preferably 25 litres) as the temperature is much more stable, BUT it works fine in smaller containers as long as you keep it somewhere consistently warm.<br><br>If you have 5 litres, you could use a demi-john (about a gallon,/ 5 litres)</p><p>If you use a container that is much bigger than the liquid in it, there is a risk of more air getting in. You might get some oxidisation where the liquid goes a deeper amber or reddy-brown. In the worst case, scenario, allowing too muich air in can let too much airborne yeasts and bacteria get in.</p><p>You should be OK, as long you get it started woth a strong yeast. The CO2 it gives off will form a protective gas layer above the juice. Yeast needs some oxygen I beklieve to reproduce at th e beginning too</p>
Thanks for the reply. While you were responding i have decided to make 10litres as ive got my hands on some more apples. When i ferment the liquid then transfer to new container should the level be just below lid of container to minimise air space?
<p>Hi - good plan and yes the short answer is that you are right - the gap between cider surface and lid should be as small as possible</p><p>Long answer is:<br>You should always be thinking about risk of spoilage (can ruin it) and oxidation (can change the taste and colour). The general air around us may have micro-organisms in it. and the juice you initially press will have loads of them in it. It will also have air in it. Fermentation gets rid of both.</p><p>The initial sterilisation of the juice is all about killing off those potentially ruinous microbes. Yeast not only makes alcohol from sugar, it also crowds out and eliminates most other micro-organisms, stopping spoilage. </p><p>Yeast breeding and fermenting also uses up all the oxygen in the juice (stopping oxidation and browning) </p><p>So, after fermentation, if you never take the lid off, then the cider should stay stable and not go off because the years has killed off the micro-competition, used up the oxygen and produced CO2 which sits on top of the cider</p><p>Whenever you lift the lid, and even more so when you transfer the cider, some new air gets in and you always risk new microbes getting in. </p><p>So, it is always best to have as little air above the finished cider so that the risk is as low as it can be. </p><p>If you sterilise AFTER fermentation, then you reduce the risk, but can't make it fizzy in the bottle.</p><p>Handy tip - when you transfer the cider, always siphon it with the outlet end UNDER the surface. Don't let the cider pour into the new container from above causing bubbles or you will get loads of air dissolving in your cider and it will oxidise much more.<br><br>Hope all that makes sense!</p>
<p>Hello Rosemary. We don't use any pesticides with our trees. What about the worms? I guess they need to be cut out during the first steps, or can you recommend a &quot;best practice&quot;? </p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>If you don't use pesticides, then that is good. The health risks from that are far more dangerous than the odd worm. Even if you ate a maggot, it would be extremely unlikely to do you any harm at all.</p><p>To be honest, I don't worry about worms at all. If you have loads of apples, then checking out each one individually is a lot of work. I don't consider the worms themselves a problem. They can cause apples to rot by making holes in them by which germs get in, but it is the rot (especially any vinegar bacteria which will turn alcohol into vinegar) I just reject any apples that are obviously gone bad and are rotten. If you only include good looking apples and sterilise the juice, then you should be fine. </p><p>I chuck the bad apples away when collecting and for any that I miss once I have got the haul back, they go on the compost heap.</p>
Thanks for the reply, were would you buy an appropriate yeast for cider?<br>
Would store bought juice be alright to use?
<p>Hi. </p><p>Yes it can be used. I've actually used diluted concentrated squash (cordial) before now. Not exactly classy, but OK if you are just makign a punch base for a party or something</p><p>Here's what to know/ponder...:</p><p>- Any apple juice can be fermented, whether pressed or bought.</p><p>- Shop bought juice is obviously usually going to be much more expensive than pressing your own apples, but the quality of the juice will be very reliable</p><p>- With shop bought juice one thing to watch out for is preservatives. If it has been heated treated (pasteurised) it should be fine.</p><p>- If sulphur dioxide has been used to preserve it, it may be tricky to get the yeast started. Sulphur dioxide is there to inhibit yeast and other micro-organisms. - Check the label!</p><p>- if it is sulphurised, then it will still work, but you may need to bear some air into the juice before the start. If you do this (and cover loosely to keep out vinegar flies), two things happen</p><p>1. the sulphur dioxide tends to be released making the juice more likely to be OK for your yeast</p><p>2. the oxygen in the air you beat in helps your yeast breed in the early stages of fermentation. This beting in should be done even if the juice is heat treated</p>
<p>Hello Rosemary, I'm a total novice, and have simply juiced my apples and left it in a large container for a month. I had a smaller bottle which I have tried and it tastes like beautiful sparkling apple juice, (very fizzy!) I haven't opened the 25 litre container yet...as I'm not sure what I could do next. I have bought campden tablets and cider yeast...? Is there anything I can do to make this more alcoholic at this late stage? </p><p>I didn't add anything or interfere in any way.. :) Many thanks! </p>
Hello,<br><br>first of all, we all all novices initially, so good on you for having a go!<br><br>You say you have left the raw juice for a month without any treatment. This is risky in that it can spoil, but you could br fine. All apples have traces of yeasts and other organisms on them and so can ferment or spoil depending on which ones take hold.<br><br>If your smaller bottle is a bit fizzy and tastes OK, then you probably are OK. It will be fermenting with wild yeast, I suspect. The main thing to check for is whether it is really vinegary. If so, then it is spoiled as far as alcoholic cider is concerned (although you can probably use it as cider vinegar).<br><br>For the big load of juice, if it tastes Ok, then you have two main choices. You can:<br><br>1. just add a new yeast culture to it and let it ferment, keeping covered, etc<br>2. sterilise it, then add a new yeast culture.<br><br>The first option will probbaly work, but there is some risk of spoilage. Having said that, if it was going to spoil it probably would have noticeably done so after a month, so it might be fine<br><br>The second option will kill off any spoilage organisms tha may be there, but not yet got hold. This is good, but you need to be careful with your new yeast that the sterilising doesn't leave too much sulphur which stops it getting started.
Thanks for the advice. We got it out and it does taste like cider. Very cloudy and not so fizzy. We decided to add the sachet of yeast and a few teaspoons of sugar to get it going in the right direction. It's not vinegary at all so that looks promising? Tastes quite strong to be honest but I don't have a method of testing yet.... we put the lid back on with the air lock. <br>I'm not as keen to add the campden tablet, what is your opinion on adding sulphites or just leaving be... ? Will the cloudiness clear when ready? <br>We're also not that keen on sterilising as it takes away the raw, unprocessed fun I guess (and the ease!).. I rather suspect it will be drunk quite quickly...I will invest in a hydrometer now!<br>Thank you again for all the advice!
Either way, You have nothing to lose. Try it and see what happens. It will probably work. It may be slightly rough as you have left it for quite a while, but it could well be good. It's like cooking. You can get lucky and cook a fab cake first time, you might burn it completely, but most likely, it will be satisfactory and you'll be better next time - good luck :)
<p>Rosemary I've left my cider fermenting for 8 days now. It has stopped bubbling just in the last couple days and I've just measured it with a hydrometer and it's 1.010. However, I tasted it as you suggested to see if it was too acidic and bitter and although it is quite bitter and so I plan to use calc calb, it also tastes quite weak .. The taste together with the specific gravity of 1.010 would indicate to me that maybe there wasn't enough sugar to begin with (I didn't know to take a reading before fermentation), what do you think? Temperature through fermentation had been so-so. I'm guessing maybe I should add some sort of sugar/yeast/water starter and referment for another week? Or am I simply reading too much into this? Thank you in advance again ?</p>
<p>Oh I used only Bramley apples </p>
<p>Bramleys - yes will be acidic. I am not sure how strong that will be. If you don't have an original gravity reading (OG), you can't really tell. I'd be inclined to add some sugar as you suggest. The yeast should perk up again. Normally adding any calcium carbonate is best done early one or you can get a chalky taste. You may get away with it. Yeast like a reasonably amount of acid. </p><p>If you have a large amount, consider splitting it and trying two variations. You might find one works better than the other, which spreads the risk and can help when trying it next time, to see what works and doesn't</p>
Could you give me an idea of how much sodium metabisulphite and yeast and carboante to add per gallon? Thank you! Just about to try this ?
<p>I am quite loose on measurment, but half a teaspoon of sodium metabisulphite is probably the moast you need. For yeast, ths comes in sachets and each one will easily do 5 gallons</p>
Thank you! My cider has been fermenting a week and just about to add carbonate. All going well.

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Bio: I like making all sorts of stuff, out of found materials: furniture, wild food, whatever! I've learnt loads from generous people out there, so ... More »
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