All You Need to Know About Making Hard Cider at Home, © 2013 by Drew Beechum.
Yields 1 gallon
• 1-gallon glass jug (2 of them if you want to make a sparkling cider)
• 4 feet of clear, food-grade polyvinyl tubing, ⅜ inch in diameter
• Aluminum foil
• 4 (1-liter) soda or sparkling water bottles with caps
• 1 pint water
• Pinch of yeast nutrient (often called Fermax, available at homebrew supply stores)
• 1 packet dried ale yeast, preferably English (available at homebrew supply stores; NOT bread yeast)
• 1 gallon good quality apple juice, room temperature
• 1 ounce (by weight) corn sugar (optional—use only if you want sparkling cider)
1. Clean your fermenting vessel with a non-soap detergent like perfume and dye-free OxiClean. Rinse well and air-dry. You must rinse the vessel clean. Any trace residue will end up in your cider and cause off flavors!
2. Sanitize your fermentation vessel and 2 foil sheets. If using bleach, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water. Soak for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with boiled, cooled water and air-dry upside down. (For other sanitizers, follow their directions.)
3. Boil 1 pint of water, and let cool to 105°F. Mix in a pinch of yeast nutrient, and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Cover with sanitized aluminum foil, and let sit for 15 minutes.
4. Warm the apple juice to 60°.
5. Add the juice to the fermenter, and mix in the foamy yeast. Cover with more sanitized foil, and place somewhere dark and cool, preferably around 60°. An interior closet works for most people.
6. After 2–4 weeks, the yeast should be done fermenting and will have dropped clear, with all the yeast and protein settling toward the bottom of the fermenter. If not already somewhere high, gently move the fermenter and allow to re-settle. Sanitize your plastic bottles, caps and tubing.
7. To bottle still cider (without carbonation): Siphon the cider from the fermenter into each of your plastic bottles, being careful to avoid the muck at the bottom. Fill completely. Stop the flow of cider by pinching the tube before moving the hose to the next bottle. Screw on the caps and chill the cider in your fridge and drink when cool. Serve around 50°.
8. If bottling sparkling carbonated cider: Dissolve the corn sugar in ½ cup of water, and bring to a light boil for 5 minutes. (If the water evaporates, add more water. You want the syrup to be almost as thin as water to blend more easily). Place the resulting syrup in the bottom of a sanitized bucket or jug. (You need to create this sugar syrup, because adding the sugar dry would cause the cider to foam uncontrollably.)
9. Siphon the cider from the fermenter into the container with the syrup, being careful to avoid the muck at the bottom. The flow of the cider should mix the sugar syrup evenly, but if you want to be sure, grab a whisk, sanitize it and gently swirl the cider for a minute. Siphon the now-sweetened cider into the bottles, leave approximately 2 fingers width of airspace in the bottle, screw on the tops and wait 2 weeks before chilling. You’ll know you’re ready when the plastic bottles become stiff and unyielding to the touch.
10. When cold, usually around an hour, just pop the top and carefully decant (pour without disturbing the sediment) your cider into your favorite glass to enjoy!
The still cider won’t have the full spritely carbonation of a sparkling cider. It may be what the French term pétillant , or just having a light prickly carbonation level that teases your tongue.