Have you ever wondered how cider is made-not the sweet non-alcoholic cider you find in stores but ‘real’ cider? Brewing your own cider from fruit juice can be a tremendous amount of fun, and the process from start to finish is easier than you may think. In this article we will outline the steps for making cider, including how to select and brew the fruit and how the fermentation process works.
The two main ingredients in cider are fresh fruit and yeast, and although you can choose any type of fruit you wish, the best cider is made from sweet apple cider right from the press. When buying fresh cider it is very important to check the label. Cider containing any type of preservatives should be avoided completely, as these preservatives will kill the yeast and the cider will not ferment. If possible, try to buy fresh cider in season from a local orchard. This way you know the cider has not been treated with any chemicals.
Yeast is the next ingredient you will need, but are all yeasts the same? The answer to that question is both yes and no. Many home brewing companies sell-and swear by-specialized liquid yeast packs for the brewing of cider, but since these can often be expensive and hard to come by, a dry wine yeast will usually do just as well.
After you have both the cider and the yeast, the best strategy to follow is to put the cider on the stove at a very low heat. Allow it to simmer for about 45 minutes to kill any bacteria or wild yeasts which may be present. Many experienced home brewers will skip this step and elect to pour their sweet cider directly into the fermenting bucket, but keep in mind that in this scenario wild yeast will be present in the cider and may alter the final taste.
The final process in transforming sweet cider to alcohol is called fermentation. With the sweet cider in the fermentation bucket, add the yeast and make sure it is stirred into the mixture entirely. Now, seal the bucket and allow Nature to take over. Over a period of about two weeks the yeast will cause the natural sugars in the cider to ferment and turn to alcohol (If you want a higher alcohol content you can add additional sugar-in the form of brown sugar or honey-to the cider before initiating fermentation). And that’s it. In just a few short weeks you’ll have a sweet and powerful home-brewed elixir to share with your friends.
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