In Brewing TV - Episode 67, we made some hard ciders. Here is the basic formula (and recipe below) for making your own hard cider at home. Also be sure and check out Northern Brewer's Cidermaking Resources Page.
If you are using store-bought cider, collect five gallons of cider that has been pasteurized, but whose ingredient list does NOT include any preservatives (this will hamper fermentation). You can add yeast nutrient and yeast energizer per instructions.
If you are using fresh-pressed cider (either by hand or from orchard or co-op), collect five gallons. You now have two options:
- Option #1: let the wild yeast from the apples/skins do some work up front by letting the cider sit for 24 hours. After this time has passed, pitch your yeast of choice.
- Option #2: dose the cider/must with Campden tablets to kill or suppress any wild bacteria or wild yeast. Let sit for 36 hours. This will essentially allow your must to start with a “clean slate.” At this time, pitch your yeast of choice.
Depending on the variety of apple your cider was made with the original gravity of your cider should be somewhere between 1.050-1.060. You can add a sugar (brown, table, other) and dissolve well
Ferment between 60-70F. Chris prefers a ranger closer to 65-68F.
Primary fermentation should take about one week and the hard cider should finish at or just below 1.000. Let sit in primary for mellowing and clarification, then rack to secondary fermentor for further clarification.
After weeks-to-months in secondary, the cider will clear and flavors will mellow. However, the cider is likely to be dry and a bit acidic, which some people like. If you would rather have a sweeter hard cider, watch Brewing TV - Episode 67: How to Make Hard Cider for instructions on back-sweetening your cider should you choose to do so. You can also add any other extracts, whole/crushed fruits, etc at this point for added complexity.
Here is a simple recipe from Chris Smith, Northern Brewer Customer Service Asst Manager and award-winning cider-maker:
5 Gallons pasteurized cider
2-4# light brown sugar
1 tsp per gallon yeast energizer
2 tsp per gallon yeast nutrient
White Labs WLP775 English Cider Yeast
Mix cider and sugar
Add half of total nutrients and aerate
After 24 hours add second half of nutrients and stir to aerate and off gas CO2