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Monday, November 02, 2009

Hard Apple Cider

So R's been on my back about posting here for a long time. Problem is, unlike R, I'm just not that into food. I mean, sure, I eat it almost daily, but when I do -- it's mostly just to stay alive.

But this is different. Of all the things I care about in this world, very few lie above the glory of booze. Delicious, fizzy booze. And it just so happens that this is apple-pickin' season -- so I decided to make a batch of home brew hard cider.
You really can't get any more basic than this when it comes to home brew, but for those of you who may not be in the know, I will give a very generalized equation of the science of home brew...

Sugar + Yeast = Ethanol + Carbon Dioxide

Sooo, during alcoholic fermentation, yeast ferment the sugars found in cider and in return produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as waste.

In order to make your own you need the following items:

5 gallons of Fresh apple cider (see below) ***
2 6.5 gallon buckets (one to be used as a primary fermenter with airlock and lid - the other as a bottling bucket w/ spigot)
bottle filler
Racking cane and tubing
1 packet yeast (I used Red Star - Cote Des Blanc, which is a wine yeast, but there are many other options available out there.. just ask your friendly brewer at your nearby home brew store.)
2 lbs brown sugar
3/4 cup pure cane sugar
~55 clean and sanitized 12 oz. bottles

*** Make sure to get Fresh apple cider. That is, cider with No preservatives (sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate) and preferably UV pasteurized. Heat pasteurization changes the chemical structure of the apple lectins, causing them to precipitate out. It also effects the taste. Cider that contains preservatives can be used with limited amounts of success when using a starter batch of yeast, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm not going to go into that here.***

Sanitize all equipment prior to brewing. Wild yeasts and bacteria can cause all sorts of unwanted flavors to pop up. It can seriously be the difference between 5 gallons of hard cider and 5 gallons of apple cider vinegar. So please, sanitize. I used a trick I learned from my mom, watching her can fruits and vegetables. After scrubbing the bottles with a chlorine solution (I used LD Carlson no-rinse cleanser, but 1 tbsp bleach in 1 gallon water will do just fine in a pinch), I boiled a small amount of water in a stock pot and placed the bottles upside down to steam for 5-10 minutes. This may be overkill, but again, it can be the difference between sweet sweet hard cider and a useless vat of moldy apple juice.

Add 1 gallon apple cider to 12qt pot and heat to near boiling, but do Not boil (remember what I said about the lectins?) Add 2 lbs of brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Add 4 gallons of cider to primary fermentation bucket (let's just call this, bucket #1). Pour in cider/sugar mixture and allow to come to room temperature. Add yeast, then seal with an airtight lid w/ airlock). Place in a cool, dark area and allow to ferment for 2 weeks.

After the fermentation completes (usually within 2 weeks), the airlock will no longer bubble. Now it's time to bottle your cider. Boil 1 cup water and dissolve 3/4 cup sugar. Allow to cool for a few minutes then add to the bottling bucket (bucket #2).

Elevate primary fermenter (#1), taking care not to disturb the sediment that's accumulated on the bottom. Open and insert racking cane and tubing. Siphon the cider into the bottling bucket (#2). This will mix the saturated sugar solution and the cider.

Elevate the bottling bucket (#2) and attach the bottle filler. Fill the bottles to the brim by pressing the bottle filler down on the bottom of the bottle. When you remove the filler, it will leave a sufficient amount of airspace. Use the bottle capper to fit the caps to the bottles. Store for 3+ weeks in a cool, dark place. Then.. enjoy.


Albany Jane said...

You are my hero. I am putting a fermenting kit on my Xmas list now. Thank you bunches for the handy steps, too!

Lilimonster said...

It'll be ready for Thanksgiving... so you're going to bring some down for sampling, right?

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