Simple Hard Cider

Picture of Simple Hard Cider

I love hard cider. It's easy to make and rewarding.
I've perfected a recipe to my taste and it takes about 3 weeks from start to finish.

*******Please do not attempt this unless you are 21 years or older********

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Step 1: The Juice

Picture of The Juice
The first time I made hard cider, I bought fresh squeezed cider from an orchard, it worked fine but it was expensive and not cost effective. You could press your own apples for juice but you would have to add an extra step of pasteurizing it.  Today we are going simple.

After researching cider at a home brew forum,  I discovered that Treetop Apple Juice contains no preservatives, which will affect your yeast.  Most store bought juices contain preservatives. Treetop contains only juice and water. I buy it from Costco, 2 gallons for about $7.

Step 2: The Yeast

Picture of The Yeast
I've tried several different types of yeast for cider including champagne yeast but the one I like the most is Safale s-04.  It's not as dry as champagne and doesn't leave the cider too bitter.

For 1 gallon of juice I use 1/2 teaspoon of yeast. The temperature range for this yeast is 15-24C (59-74F)

I keep mine at 20C (68F)

Step 3: The Equipment

Picture of The Equipment
The only equipment I use for this is a rubber stopper, an airlock, and a hydrometer.
All of these can be bought a brewing store and they are very cheap.

The rubber stopper is a 6 1/2. Don't use anything smaller than a 6 1/2 for the tree top bottle or it will fall in.

The hydrometer is used to determine alcohol content and it's optional.

You will also need a couple of old, clean,  2 liter bottles for carbonation.
krobison2 months ago
this is an old post, but would a soda stream work to carbonate it?
target022 (author)  krobison2 months ago
Yup, just have to put it in their container.
ljtexeira2 years ago
This is my favorite, and simplest recipe. I usually wind up with 10% ABV using Safale S04. I use 5 and 6 gallon carboys and alternate between S04 and White Labs WLP099. Thanks for posting this!
asteadman2 years ago
One more day and my cider will be ready! Took a sample two days ago and couldn't believe how tasty it is.

Couldn't get Safale 04 locally, so used Safale US-05.

I also used 1 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown.

Started two more batches yesterday. One all white sugar and one all brown sugar. Curious to taste the difference.

I also built (basically) the same carbonator while waiting for ferment. (I did order/use the prefab carbonator cap and related valve connector.) can't seem to get a beverage to hold carbonation for more than a few seconds in the glass. Still playing with it.

Oh... And I purchased the Tree Top juice from Costco, but the 6.5 airlock plug was too small. Ended up using a size 9. I'm guessing they redesigned the bottle?

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this! I've had a great time playing with it and even got my 70+ yer old dad to start a batch today.

Greetings, I also carbonate at home, and have made this cider. It's AWESOME when carbonated. Here is how I carbonate everything (water, cider, grape juice, apple juice, etc.). Only use a 2-liter bottle from soda pop. They are designed to handle the pressure. Never, ever use the juice bottle. Ever. It WILL blow and you'll have juice (and ants) everywhere. Seriously. Anyway, fill the bottle with liquid only up to the shoulder. Make sure your liquid is COLD. The colder it is, the more CO2 it will absorb. As you screw on the carbonator top squeeze the air out of the bottle. At this point you should have a slightly flattened bottle with no air in it. Now attach your CO2 hose and turn on your ball valve and start shaking the crap out of the bottle. Watch your pressure guage. It will bounce around in the 20-30 psi range as gas goes in and gets absorbed by the liquid. Keep shaking! When the pressure get to 40 psi and you can't get it lower by shaking, turn off the valve. Now you have a bottle with 40 psi inside. Shake it for another 20 seconds. Now SLOWLY bleed off the pressure. I unscrew the cap until I just hear it start to hiss. I let it sit until it stops hissing and unscrew a little more. With water it's fairly quick, but with apple anything it takes longer because it tends to foam. When I do juice or cider, since I use tire valves, I can press the stem and release a little pressure until the foams get near the top of the bottle, then I wait until the foam settles down to continue. The slower you release the pressure the less foam you'll have to deal with. When all the pressure has been slowly released, you can go ahead and swap the cap for the original soda cap. Put it in your fridge and you should have great fizzing for over a week.
kmartin-12 years ago
You forgot to mention the venting process if you carbonate with compressed gas.

Do a light fill, then release pressure and repeat a few times to get the O2 content lower before pressurizing to carbonate.