In the fall, we often find whole boxes of apples and then have to come up with things to do with them. Although we give some to our parents for baking, that ends up being a lot of apples. Since we both like cider, we decided to try our hand at brewing cider.
The main ingredient that you need for cider is the fruit that you want to use. We typically use apples, because the other flavors tend to be a bit too sweet for me at least. We usually juice the apples ourselves, but last week we found a bunch of regular apple cider, so we just used that this time.
Once you've got your juice, you also need your fermenting vessel (we used gallon jugs), an air lock, yeast, yeast food, and a sterilant. We went to a brewing store to buy all of these items, and it only cost about $20 for everything, so it wasn't too expensive.
Making the Cider
If you are starting with fruit, you will need to first juice it. Once it is juiced, you should pour the juice through cheesecloth in order to remove the solids from your juice. If you don't use the cheesecloth, it just means you will end up with less cider.
If you are starting with already pure juice, like the apple cider that we found, you just need to pour that into the jug. In either case, you then need to add 1 crushed tablet of the Campden Tablet sterilant per jug. This will kill any wild yeast and anything else that might be growing in the juice. You don't want to use the wild yeast because then it might not taste right. Once added, put the cap on the jug and shake it up a bit. Cover the top of the jug with cheesecloth and let this sit for 2 days.
The next thing you do is add your yeast and yeast nutrients. You should add 1 teaspoon per gallon of the yeast nutrient and an appropriate amount of the yeast package in each gallon. Our yeast was meant to make 6 gallons, so we added 1/6 of the packet into each gallon. We then swirled the gallon jugs to mix the yeast and yeast nutrient into the cider.
The last thing you need to do is put the air lock on top of the jug mouth. Make sure that the air lock is filled with water below the max fill line first. Then you just plug the jug and let it sit. After about 2 weeks, your yeast should be done and the bubbling in your air lock will stop. We suggest then waiting at least another 2 weeks before drinking to allow the cider to cure.
This is when you can bottle it. Our bottles were mason jars that were first sterilized, then filled. In my opinion, our previous attempts have turned out pretty well. It tasted better than some of the sweeter ciders I've had. We will see how this time turns out, but I hope its just as good.