Introduction: How to Cultivate Natural Cider Yeast

About: working on fixing up my apartment the challenge; to do it as cheap as I can using things i find or have access to.

Why am I trying to cultivate natural yeast? First of all I have many allergy's some of which are to the yeast used to brew wine and beer (along with, malt and hops ) .Back in 1981 "Mother Earth News" published an article on how to make ginger beer that used raisins as a means to add yeast to it for carbonation. I tried it and it worked plus I  found out that the yeast in the raisins did not bother me.
 Now  as we set the way-back machine for the present, a couple of months ago I was reading about brewing hard cider when I remembered about the raisins and wondered if they could work for brewing hard cider. After some research online I discovered that it would work and that some people had been doing it this way for a long time and that others where using the yeast that is found on the skin on the outside of the apple. So this is how they do it.
Oops, almost forgot to mention that one of the other reasons for cultivating a cider yeast is that when you use it for brewing hard cider you tend to get a hard cider that has more of a apple smell and taste to it, and you get to not only impress your friends with the fact that made it, but that you brewed it with your very own yeast you created yourself.

Step 1: Supplies

  • organic apple **NOTE DO NOT WASH THE APPLE***
  • paring knife
  • sanitizer
  • 1 quart canning jar
  • canning ring and lid
  • air lock
  • 3/8-7/16 drill bit
  • bucket
Why use organic apples? organic apples have not been treated on the outside with any chemicals which would
kill off any natural yeast cling to the outside of the apple, they are just picked and sent to the store. Also DO NOT WASH them as this will remove any yeast from the apple and then you will just be wasting your time.

Why organic juice? Well it just seams to work better when you are trying to cultivate the yeast. once you you have got a strong culture going you can use other types of juice as long as they have no preservatives in them as they will kill almost any type of yeast you put in them. I have had no luck at all using any other type of juice when trying to start a culture. plus I like the way it taste better.

What is sanitizer and where do I get it ? Sanitizer is used to make sure that any equipment that you are using does not have any unwanted cultures or bacteria that that could spoil or give you unwanted results.
You can find it at any local brew shop or at any online brewing supplier.

What is the air lock for? It's purpose is to prevent any outside containment from getting in while letting built up gasses from inside to escape. 
You can get them the same place you got the sanitizer, they are under 1$ usd.

Step 2: Prepearing Canning Lid

Using a drill and the 3/8 drill bit, drill a hole in the canning lid so you can insert the air lock.

Step 3: Sanitize

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP... you must make sure ALL of the equipment you use (ie..jar, knife, lid, air lock and HANDS), have been sanitized so that you only cultivate the yeast from the outside of the apple and not anything else. So mix the sanitizer according to directions and follow what it how it says to sanitize everything(except the drill bit which need any more).

Step 4: Peel the Apple

Remove the sticker/label from apple and save for latter.
Peel the apple and put the peels in the canning jar.

Step 5: Add Juice

Pour the juice half way up the canning jar, covering the apple peel.

Step 6: Put Canning Lid on Jar

Put the canning lid on canning jar and screw on ring nice and tight.
Now take the sticker that you removed from the apple and press it onto the top of the lid so that you know what type of apple it is.

Step 7: Air Lock

Fill the air lock with water to the fill line.
Place in hole in lid.

Step 8: Store

Put the jar in a warm dark place.

Step 9: Wait

All you do know is wait and check on it about once every day. It may take a week or more to see some results, as long as you don't see any mold start to form in the jar or smell a funny odor coming from the jar it should be alright if it does any of these things then it may not of had any yeast on and you will need to start over again. This also why it is a good idea  do at least 3-4 different batches  at a time maybe using different types of apples in each one. Also even if you use the same type of apple you may not always get the same yeast on each one, so try several batches to get one you like.
You will know that it is starting to do something when you see bubbles start to form on top of the juice and then gases starting to escaping out of the air lock as bubbles.
In other words as someone once said "It's ALIVE".

Step 10: What Do I Do With It Now That I Have It?

Well if you are old enough,(legal drinking age), you can use it to make home brewed hard cider, mead, or wine.
 I have even read where some people have used yeast like this to make a type of slow rise bread,(4-6 hours).

Step 11: Care and Feeding

If you have a batch that you like you can store it in your fridge so that it will stay dormant until you need it, taking it out and feeding it every time after you use it with more juice and some sugar, much like taking care of a sourdough starter.

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