How to Make Cider

2,466,555

580

214

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!

Recommendations

  • Puzzles Speed Challenge

    Puzzles Speed Challenge
  • Secret Compartment Challenge

    Secret Compartment Challenge
  • Lighting Challenge

    Lighting Challenge

214 Discussions

0
gadgeto
gadgeto

Question 2 days 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!!!

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 2 days 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 2 days 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

0
rosebush40
rosebush40

Question 3 months ago on Step 8

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

0
jonwest1220
jonwest1220

Answer 2 months 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.

0
terence.angell
terence.angell

Question 2 months ago

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

0
Chroffey
Chroffey

1 year 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?

15449880741854158417380754097914.jpg
0
DaveM345
DaveM345

Reply 10 months ago

thankyou and yes it does make sense cheers

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Reply 11 months 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 : )

0
DaveM345
DaveM345

Question 10 months ago

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

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 10 months 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

0
ChristineR114
ChristineR114

Question 11 months ago on Step 7

Hi just wanted to know how much meta bisulphate to add per gallon to neutralise bad bacteria

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 11 months ago

Hi,
a rounded teaspoon for 5 gallons is about right. Because you are adding it before fermentation, you shpouldn't get a sulphury taste, because the sulphur dioxide that gets release will disipate when fermentation gets going. You do need to leave the juice for at24 hours after sterilising using this before adding the yeast. Otherwise residual SO2 can kill the yeast too!
You can also use camden tablets. These are measured doses of it and you add one per gallon I recall (they tell you on the pack).

0
SamB254
SamB254

Question 1 year ago

Technically speaking is a less traditional method just as possible? For example, Could I juice the apples with a juicer? If not, why not?

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Answer 1 year ago

Hi, ha ha - yes. I am definitely not a purist. A juicer is likely to be more efficient. Also doing it by hand is a pretty hard workout. It is really tiring!
Using a juicer MAY release a bit more pectin, but if you are adding pectin-destroying enzyme that's not an issue. (Essentially, if you don't use pectin-destroying enzyme, you just get cloudy cider. That is even more "traditional". In the UK, rough farm-made cloudy cider made with just juice is known as Scrumpy.)

0
144920
144920

1 year ago on Step 12

This is so cool. I have two trees and I have collected apples from one tree. I have over 15 five gallon buckets of apples. I am looking forward to making cider. Thank you for this instructable.

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Reply 1 year ago

Go for it. It can vary depending on apples, conditions, etc, but as long as you do the initial sterilisation of the juice, it should work fine. If you make it, post some pics later of what it looked like. It's always great to see people riff on an idea :)

0
CaroC9
CaroC9

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

In the step after checking the fermenting juice isn't too acidic, is it ok to leave in a fermenting bucket rather than in airlocked demi-johns/carboys?

0
rosemarybeetle
rosemarybeetle

Reply 1 year ago

It is best in an airlock, to avoid allowing bad micro-organisms getting into to it. In particular, acetobacter which is a bacteria that will turn all the alcohol into vinegar - bad!

You can leave in a fermenting bucket, if you have either a closed lid with a fermentation lock or a lid that is on sufficient to stop air getting in, but not actually completely sealed. Because the carbon diaxide produced will create pressure inside the bucket, you can't close the seal, but if the lid is on, then no air will get in because the same carbon dioxide will be seeping out all the time. This gets less reliable though as the fermentation slows down

0
Clonterm1
Clonterm1

Question 1 year ago on Step 7

What is best to store the juice in before bottleing .is a open bucket or container advisable and does it have to be covered to protect it from flys etc .and is it to be stored in a warm or dry place