How to Make Cider

2,325,292

560

201

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...

Share

Recommendations

  • Puzzle Challenge

    Puzzle Challenge
  • First Time Author

    First Time Author
  • Plastics Contest

    Plastics Contest

201 Discussions

0
None
SamB254

Question 1 day 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?

1 more answer
0
None
rosemarybeetleSamB254

Answer 20 hours 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
None
144920

6 weeks 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.

1 reply
0
None
rosemarybeetle144920

Reply 5 weeks 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
None
CaroC9

Question 7 weeks 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?

1 more answer
0
None
rosemarybeetleCaroC9

Reply 7 weeks 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
None
Clonterm1

Question 2 months 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

1 more answer
0
None
rosemarybeetleClonterm1

Reply 7 weeks ago

Always covered. The vinegar forming bacteria acetobacter is in the air everywhere and the tiny fruit flies that appear are covered in it too. If you let that in, your alcohol will be turned int vinegar!

0
None
WillY7

1 year ago

Phill 23
Hi phill 17% was achieved by syrupping up to 2025-2050 and finishing at 850- 900 using a vodka turbo yeast the main conversion takes 7 days but I left it for 3 weeks taste was very dry so I back sweetened it with some carton apple juice to taste

2 replies
0
None
PhilE23WillY7

Reply 1 year ago

That is impressive! I'm new to this, doing my first batch. Exciting stuff!

0
None
rosemarybeetleWillY7

Reply 1 year ago

Blimey, that is impressive. I've got plum wine up to about 16% before now, but some year's ago. Plums seem to be very good for yeast - acidic, whihc it needs and I think they must have lots of nutrients. Certainly, they naturally attract yeast blooms in the wild, so I suspect they do.
The thing I find the hardest with cider and with some fruit wines is getting the acidity right. If you have really ripe apples, it's normally OK, as they tend to mellow out, but sometimes you can't tell when because the sweetness masks the acidity. It's only when you have fermented off all the sugar that you can taste it. I have never quite got into to accurate PH testing, but that is probably the way to go if you want to get it perfect

0
None
WillY7rosemarybeetle

Reply 1 year ago

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
The apples were free the sugar was £5 $7.5 three bags of yeast £1.75 can't beat that
My philosophy is it ain't wasted when you persevere and do something with it
Word is now out and cider is number 1 and apple crumble is now number 2
Happy boozing people

0
None
PhilE23WillY7

Reply 1 year ago

How long did you leave the cider to make 17% cider!?

0
None
rosemarybeetleWillY7

Reply 1 year ago

I love that you pushed it in various directions. Good stuff.

Always happy to see pics of stuff made, so feel free to post some more in comments...

0
None
PhilE23

1 year ago

To check the acidity, I assume that the fermination must be visibly finished or the cider will ruin when I take the bung out of the demijohn?

0
None
Monte Vale Pocinho

1 year ago

I live in Portugal and I am not sure what kinds of yeast I can find. Does active dry bread yeast work?

The apples are picked and ready to go...

0
None
LukeL61

1 year ago

Has anyone had any experience using a sourdough starter as their yeast culture vs the store-bought packages? I like the idea of having my hands in more steps of the process and was curious about anyone else's experiences

0
None
PeterB460

1 year ago

I was wondering if you could bring your juice to the boil to remove any yeast and bacteria. Is this something you would reccommend?