Hard Cider Recipe
Items with an * are included in the VnH Cider Making Kit.
ACQUIRE JUICE It is VERY IMPORTANT that you ensure that the juice does not have preservatives; sorbate, sorbitol, sulfite, things of that sort. Ascorbic acid, citric acid and vitamin C is fine.
TEST AND ADDITIONS --If the juice is unpasteurized, add a small amount of sulfite (1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite* per 5 gallons or 1 crushed Campden tablet). Blend with a little juice to dissolve, then add to the bulk of the batch. Let stand for 24 hours.
After 24 hours:
--If the juice is cloudy, add pectic enzyme* at the rate of 1/2 tsp. per gallon.
--Add yeast nutrient*. Roughly 1/4 tsp per gallon is a good starting point. Be prepared to add more once fermentation is well under way.
--Check the gravity with a hydrometer or refractometer. Record the result. This number will help determine the alcohol by volume of the cider, as well as act as a window into the fermentation process.
--OPTIONAL: Chaptalize (add sugar). If you’d like a stronger cider, add a simple sugar at this time. The sugar will ferment out entirely, increasing alcohol content, thinning the body, and amplifying acidity. Partially refined and darker sugars are more prone to affect the flavor. One pound of sugar in five gallons will add approximately one percent alcohol by volume. Belgian candi sugars, honeys, or plain corn sugar all work well and have unique effects.
--OPTIONAL: Add acid*. Most juice, especially juice made from later season apples, will have a lot of sweetness, but little acid. Acid helps to balance the cider by adding sharp, crisp character. Small amounts of malic acid can be added to taste, up to one tablespoon in five gallons. To ensure more accuracy and repeatability, consider measuring the pH or using an acid test kit* to determine approximate acid content. Remember, it’s always possible to add a little more, so err on the side of caution.
OPTIONAL: Add tannin*. Tannin helps the cider’s “grip” and structure. These are sensations more than flavors, but can add wonderful complexity to the finished product. Start small, as it doesn’t take much to get the desired effect. Liquid or dry tannin can be used to equal effectiveness. Remember, it’s always possible to add a little more, so err on the side of caution.
-- If you added pectic enzyme* and yeast nutrient* wait one hour before pitching yeast
--“Cider” yeast works well and is available in dry* or liquid form.
--Wine yeasts, such as Lalvin EC-1118 or 71B-1122, Red Star Premier Cuvee or Cote des Blancs are also popular. They are alcohol and nutrient tolerant, work quickly and relatively cleanly, and are not sensitive to temperature.
--Beer yeast and characterful wine yeasts can impart specific character. Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison or 3944 Witbier will contribute spicy black pepper phenolics, while Wyeast 4783 Rudesheimer and Wyeast 4242 Chablis will preserve the delicate character of the apples and add their own aromatic complexity. Fermentation temperature can also have a big impact on yeast character.
--Experiment and determine what you like most.
--Allow the cider to ferment to dryness.
--If the fermentation seems sluggish, smells like rotten eggs or burning matches; add yeast nutrient, 1/4 tsp at a time, up to 1 tbsp per 12 hours. Use caution when adding nutrient, as the trapped CO2 in the cider can react with the added powder, causing an overflow of liquid.
--When the gravity is reliably stable, usually around 0.996-1.010, the cider is almost ready to be racked. Allow it to sit on the yeast sediment for a little longer - at least one day, up to three weeks or so, to help clean up any off-flavors that were produced during fermentation.
CONDITIONING / SECONDARY FERMENTATION
--Rack the cider into a sanitized carboy or similar vessel that will accommodate the volume with no or minimal head space. At this point, the process is largely dependent upon taste. As the cider ages, the flavors will mellow and come into condition, the yeast and other sediment will slowly settle out, and everything will generally improve.
--If the cider is still cloudy and you prefer it to be clear, use a wine fining agent, such as Sparkolloid*, to help it clarify. Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.
--If you’d like sparkling cider, ensure that the gravity is stable, and add an amount of priming agent equivalent to priming a batch of beer. Priming sugar, honey, or similar sweeteners can be used.
--If you’d like still cider, add a small amount of sulfite, usually 1/4 tsp per five gallons. This will ensure that the yeast doesn’t come back to life.
Congratulations, you’ve made cider!