How to Make Hard Cider

bottle fo sparkling cider

Cider making starts with preparing the must (the unfermented cider mixture containing water, sugar, and fruit). After must has been prepared it is time to start the fermentation process (the process of yeast converting sugars to alcohol). It is then necessary to rack your cider twice, a third racking is optional. Racking is the term for transferring the cider from one vessel to another during the fermentation process. After fermentation and racking you're ready to bottle your cider for future enjoyment!

Cider Must

NOTE: Prepare all the equipment required for each step just prior to starting. Follow the instructions provided with the sanitizing chemicals you are using.

5 gallons fresh apple cider or two 96 oz. Apple Wine Base

5 Campden Tablets

1½ teaspoon Pectic Enzyme

1½ teaspoon Yeast Nutrient

1½ teaspoon Acid Blend

1 packet Yeast*

*Champagne yeast for dry cider, Cote de Blanc or beer yeast for semi-dry. You may also consider White Labs English Cider Yeast.

Prepare Must

Crush Campden tablets (to suppress bacteria or wild yeast) and dissolve them in 1 cup of cool water. Stir in pectic enzyme to prevent haze in the finished cider, yeast nutrient to provide for complete fermentation and acid blend for balance. Add the solution to the sanitized primary fermenting pail.

Add 5 gallons of fresh pressed apple cider or two 96 oz. cans of Vintner's Harvest Apple Wine Base plus enough water to make 5 gallons. Stir thoroughly and cover the pail with the lid, let it rest overnight at room temperature.

Primary Fermentation

Open the primary fermenter and sprinkle one packet of wine or brewer's yeast on top of the juice. Place the lid securely on the pail and attach the air lock. Fill air lock halfway with water. Fermentation will start in about 12 hours. You will notice the air lock bubble vigorously at first; this will subside as time passes.

Allow the cider to ferment in the pail for seven to ten days. A rule of thumb is that when there is less than one bubble per minute the primary fermentation is complete. You should still wait at least 7 days before racking.

Secondary Fermentation

Place the primary fermenter on a counter or tabletop 24 hours prior to the next step. This will allow the sediment to settle to the bottom of the pail.

Clean and sanitize a Better Bottle or glass carboy along with your siphon equipment.

Crush Campden tablets (one tablet per gallon of cider) to suppress renewed fermentation and dissolve them in 1 cup of cool water. Add this to your secondary fermenter.

Siphon the cider into the secondary fermenter.

Attach the air lock and allow the cider to rest for 14 days at around 70°F. Take a taste test after 14 days and adjust using guidelines below if needed.

If it tastes a little bland you can add ½ teaspoon of acid blend or to taste.

If it is lacking in apple flavor but the tartness is correct, add our apple flavor enhancer.

If it is too tart, add frozen apple juice concentrate (preservative free) to taste.

To make an addition you must first clean and sanitize your primary fermenter and siphon the cider into it.

As the cider is transferring, gently stir in your adjusting ingredient. When the racking is complete, clean and sanitize the Better Bottle.

Crush Campden tablets (one tablet per gallon of cider) to suppress renewed fermentation and dissolve them in 1 cup of cool water. Add this to your secondary fermenter.

Rack the cider back into it. Seal it up with the stopper and air lock and let it rest for another 7 to 14 days.

Bottling Hard Cider

Hard cider is best bottled in standard beer bottles using regular crown caps. You can make the cider still or sparkling by adding carbonation drops the same way as is done with beer. Bottles and caps must be cleaned and sanitized just prior to filling.

For still cider, rack into the sanitized bottling bucket. Bottles and caps must be cleaned and sanitized just prior to filling.

Attach the bottle filling wand to the bucket spigot using a 2 - 3 inch portion of the siphon hose as an adapter.

Fill and cap the bottles and allow cider to condition for a minimum of two weeks before chilling and drinking.

For sparkling cider, follow the bottling procedure for still cider adding one carbonation drop into each sanitized bottle before filling. Cap and allow to condition as stated for still cider.

Homemade cider is best served warm with wine mulling spices

Cider Making

Hard and Sweet Apple Cider Making Kits and Supplies