How to Make Cider

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Introduction: How to Make Cider

About: 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 reuse any useful ideas that you find here...

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 :)

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-cide...

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.

Step 2: Containers for Apples

You need a lot of apples.  Here are about 20-22 gallons of apples, which made about 4 and half gallons of juice.

Step 3: Pulping the Apples

To release the juice, you have to smash up the apples, then press them.  A long piece of timber is good for this (untreated with any sort of preservative!)

Step 4: Building a Simple Press

Here, a press was made from 4" x 3" (12cm x 9cm) timber bolted together.  This forms a strong frame in which a tub can be placed. 

Step 5: Preparing the Apple Pulp

The mashed apple pulp is put inside a nylon mesh, and put into a plastic box, with a single small hole drilled into it (to let out the juice).  The cheapest available was this red mesh, an offcut from the fabric section in a shop.

Step 6: Pressing Using a Car Jack

A board was placed on top of the mesh containing the apple pulp, and a car jack placed between the board and the frame to apply pressure.

Step 7: Sterilising the Juice

This step is not essential, but is advisable if your apples are already quite mouldy or have lots of soft brown bits.  Here sodium metabisulphite is being added.  This realeases sulphur dioxide, which will kill or seriously retard any dodgy moulds, yeasts or bacteria which otherwise can spoil the juice.
Do not add your yeast for about 24 hours after sterilisation or it may be killed as well!

Step 8: Add Yeast

Any wine or beer grade yeast is good for this.  You can add it straight into the juice, but if you have used sulphur dixide to sterilise your juice, you should allow 24 hours before adding the yeast.  The wine yeast you add will quickly crowd out any traces of other natural yeasts.  It will use up the oxygen in the juice to breed, and will start turning the natural sugars into alcohol.

Step 9: Checking Acidity

After a week or so, the yeast in your cider will have turned all the sugar into alcohol.  At this point you can check to see how sour the apples were.  If the apples were not completely ripe, or you only had wild apples the juice can be very sharp. This can be so sharp you can't drink it.  You can make this less so by adding calcium carbonate (aka precipitated chalk). This will react with the acids in your cider and neutralise them.  You may need to add several ounces per gallon, but do this in stages because when you add it, the reaction of acid and carbonate will release carbon dioxide, so it will fizz.

Step 10: Bottling

After you have left your cider for a few weeks, it will clear as the yeast settles, and it will be ready for bottling.  It may not be completely clear, but that doesn't really matter because it can clear in the bottle. 
For each wine size bottle, you will need to prime the bottles by adding just over half a teaspoon of sugar to each. This will restart the fermentation, but because it happens in a sealed bottle, the carbon dioxide released gets dissolved into the cider and creates pressure. When the bottle is opened later, the pressure is released, allowing the gas to esacpe, which creates the sparkle. 
You should use bottle designed to stand pressure such as bottles made for sparkling wine.  Seal your bottles with corks and champagne wire cages.  You can use beer bottles with crown corks, but this needs a special tool.

Step 11: Storing Your Cider

For the first 3-5 days after bottling with, you should keep your bottles in a warm place.  This will encourage the yeast to ferment the sugar, to will make the cider fizzy.  After that, you should store the bottles in a cold place for about 2 weeks to allow the cider to settle and clear.

Step 12: The Finished Cider

Cheap and cheery, but actually rather tasty, and very satisfying to make...

1 Person Made This Project!

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223 Comments

0
tonytc1
tonytc1

Question 8 months ago

Me again, I've just tried making pear cider, and this is the result after 24hours fermenting (the demijon on the left is pear , while the one on the right is apple after a week fermenting).What I would like to know , is how do you make this clear out.thanks .

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tonytc1
tonytc1

Question 8 months ago on Step 1

Hi , I've just made a second trial batch, but looks the same as the first quite cloudy and dense, even though I filtered it, The first batch after 3-4 weeks seems to have got darker in colour ,what could be the problem, or is this normal. thanks

IMG_20201005_083955.jpg
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brewster58
brewster58

8 months ago on Step 10

you can use clean fizzy drink bottles as long as they are sterilised with hot water or a sodium metabisulphite solution such as campden tablets rinsed out with clean water fizzy drink bottles are designed to withhold pressure always leave an inch or 2 gap to allow for expansion of the second stage fermentation process to prevent fizz from coming out when opening put your bottles in the fridge a couple of hours at least before serving this allows the sediment to settle in the base of the bottles

0
gadgeto
gadgeto

Question 10 months ago

Your recipe seems easier (fewer stages, less equipment) than many others I've seen. So I just wanted to check: am I right that you don't sterilise any of the equipment, bottles, etc or need stuff like demijohns and airlocks? Thanks!!!

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rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 10 months ago

Hi, thanks - you should always use cleaned equipment, bottles, airlocks etc. If washed well in soapy water and rinsed thoroughly then you can risk not sterilising them as well but it's always best to sterilise everything. I use sodium metabisulphite in water for this. It's very cheap.
If you only wash and rinse things, then you won't get any sulphur dioxide in it, which is commonly added in lots of wine for preserving it, but harmless.
the trade off is that there is more of a risk that any airborne microbes that get into your cider will spoil it if you don't use it. It's a choice. BUT everything must be at least clean : )

0
gadgeto
gadgeto

Reply 10 months ago

Thanks, that makes sense! You mention airlocks etc but your fermenting is all in a big lidded bucket so there's no demijohns and airlocks etc. It's not closed to the air. Right? I'm just trying to understand what equipment I need to gather and your instructions seem simpler than many I've seen, so they appeal to me the most. I probably have lidded buckets!!! x

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brewster58
brewster58

Reply 8 months ago

the whole purpose of a lidded bucket is to keep microbes out but an airlock keeps the air out but also allows the co2 produced in the fermentation process to escape the secret of the airlock is to only fill the bottom u shape too much water will give you a false reading using a hydrometre is your safest bet to know when your brew is ready to bottle

0
brewster58
brewster58

Question 8 months ago on Step 7

a lot of people add extra sugar into their apple juice whats your take on this as we run a home brew shop and dextrose is recommended as an addition cheers Bill

0
chrishalliday1967
chrishalliday1967

Question 8 months ago

How much yeast do I use per litre of pressed apple juice and can I use normal baking yeast

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Darrenlcot73
Darrenlcot73

Question 10 months ago

Hi , another newbie question, I have just been given these apples and they are ready. I plan to spray them with campden tablet dilute, crush and press, then add to sterilised Demi John with yeast and yeast nutrient. Does that sound right , do I add sugar at this stage ? Thanks

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rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 9 months ago

Hi. Sorry I missed this.
I would add the camden tablets after pressing, as it is easier to disperse it consistently in a liquid.
Havind said that, if you are not pressing the apples immediately, you could wash them with a camden tablet in water to sterilise the surface. This will last a day or so. Longer if kept in a sealed container.

If you sterilise the juice, let it stand (covered) for at least 24 hours before adding the yeast. This lets the sulphur dioxide dissipate. When you add the yeast and nutrient, give it a damn good stir to bear some oxygen in. The yeast needs this at the beginning of the fermentation (to reproduce initially). After that, keep air out or microbes can get in.

Hope that makes sense

0
Darrenlcot73
Darrenlcot73

Question 10 months ago

My apple juice, yeast and nutrient have been in the fermenting bucket for 2 weeks, how much longer should I leave it and if it’s not sweet enough what should I do. Sorry for the newbie questions

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rosebush40
rosebush40

Question 1 year ago on Step 8

What ratio of yeast to juice? Can bread makers yeast be used?

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jonwest1220
jonwest1220

Answer 1 year ago

You can use bread machine yeast because it's "fast acting". I've been using it for almost 20 years and my grandfather used bread yeast for his hard cider. I use a whole packet for 2 gallons. The ratio is 1 teaspoon per gallon. If you add more, it won't hurt, it'll have more yeast and ferment a little faster where not enough will take longer to ferment and you run into the natural yeast taking over and killing you brew. Also something not mentioned is citrus acid. My grandfather used oranges because of cost where I use lemon juice, quarter cup per gallon.

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terence.angell
terence.angell

Question 1 year ago

Can i use bicarbonate of soda instead of calcium carbonate to counteract acidity?

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Chroffey
Chroffey

2 years ago

Hi
Ive made my first attempt but there no fizz and it just tastes like apple juice. I daren't swallow it in case I can't make it to work the next day. The apples from my tree are quite sweet, like braeburns. Is there anyway to test if it's got any alcohol content without drinking a bottle?

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DaveM345
DaveM345

Reply 1 year ago

thankyou and yes it does make sense cheers

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rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Reply 1 year ago

apologies, I never answered this. That looks great by the way. If the juice is still as sweet as when you started, then it probably hasn't fermented and may actually just still be juice! Try drinking some on a Friday : )

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DaveM345
DaveM345

Question 1 year ago

why do you need to put sugar in the bottles when the apple cider is ready to bottle ?

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 1 year ago

The cider will be "live" when you bottle it. That is, there will be traces of living yeast in it. By adding a small amount of sugar, once bottled, the yeast will slowly ferment that last bit of sugar and this will give off carbon dioxide which dissolves in the cider. This is how you give the cider its fizz. You will notice a tiny amount of sediment forms in the cider. This is the dead yeast once it has fermented all the available sugar

This is called bottle conditioning and is how champagne fizz is created. In that case, there is an additional process for getting rid of the yeast sediment, but that is not straightforward. It involves special corks, turning the bottles upside down and freezing the bottle neck etc. That is beyond a beginner's guide : )

But anyway, that's what the sugar is for. Adding it is called "priming" the bottles .
If you don't want it fizzy (i.e. you like still cider), then don't add any sugar.

I hope that makes sense