Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Making Hard Cider

On Saturday afternoon, we put the old apple press to work.

Our target was 3 gallons of cider for this first attempt.  I read somewhere online that one would need 12.5 lbs of apples to make 1 gallon of cider.  We picked about 40 pounds from the orchard down the street and felt like we had enough.

We started chopping the apples in half and then french fry cutting the halves to get them ready for the press.

After pressing with all our might, we learned that the apples needed to be processed even further to get more juice.

We employed a 3 three pronged attack (food processor, stick blender, and regular blender) to prep the apples for more productive pressing!

The regular blender didn’t work all that well, so we stuck with the food processor and the stick blender.  We turned the 40 lbs of apple fries into mush in no time.

We put them all back into the press and watched the huge flow of cider spill down into the kettle.

I added 2 cups of sugar to the cider and pasteurized it by heating it to 170°F for 20 minutes.  We felt it was our best option to kill any unwanted critters.

We cooled it in a kiddie pool ice bath, added some pectic enzyme, some yeast nutrient, and two packages of proofed Champagne yeast.

Sunday morning, it was fermenting like crazy.  We’ll see how it turns out.

Lessons Learned:

Need an apple grinder or some kind of way to mill apples into a nice mush quickly and easily.

Need to fix the bottom of the old press.  There are a few leaks – we had a temporary fix with plastic wrap…but that’s not ideal.

We were only able to press 2.75 gallons of cider.  We may have a larger yield next time, but maybe we should pick a few more pounds of apples.

Some photos:

Making Apple Cider Apples for Hard Cider Apple Cider Press

Making Hard Apple Cider Chilling in a kiddie pool Fermenting Cider

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6 Comments

  1. Very interesting a neat to see. I made a hard cider last year but it was from store bought apple cider. I’ve wanted to do my own press and all of that, but with the results of my last cider experiment still up in the air, I can’t put a good reason as to why I would push further. Hope yours comes out well!

  2. Chris

    I heard a great idea from someone that lives by me. What they did was take an old stainless sink and attach an dispsal to the bottom. Viola, instant apple grinder. All you need is wooden spoon to move thing along from time to time. You don’t even need to cut up the apples if they are small enough to fit into the drain. (Please if you are reading this: DONT EVER USE YOUR HAND TO CLEAR THE JAM). I’ve made a couple of batches of hard cider and i’ve found that a little acid blend from the get go really adds a nice touch to the batch if you like it a litle more on the sweet and tart side.

  3. sean

    I’ve been doing hard apple ciders for a little while now. If all you did was apples and only 2 cups of sugar, with champagne yeast you’re going to end up with a dry, white wine, similar to a Chardonnay, maybe somewhere around 4% alcohol. If you want more alcohol, *and* sweetness, you have to go big on the sugar. I have personally found 3lbs of sugar to 1 gallon of juice is good for my uses.

    If you want a more complex flavor, boil some raisins, mash up some pears, keep the apple skins, and throw it all into a mesh bag that you steep in the must during primary fermentation. The skins will provide a lot of aroma. Be careful with how many pears you use, they go a long way when contributing flavor and aroma to an apple cider.

    After fermentation is complete, I’ll use a fining agent to clear it, and potassium sorbate to kill off the yeast. Just before I bottle, I’ll also add straight cranberry juice to take some of the edge off of the hot alcohol flavor (I’m thinking the cane sugar produces a higher-than-average amount of fusel alcohols), give it some color, and balance out the sweetness. Straight cranberry juice is kind of hard to find, usually stores only sell cranberry juice cocktail.

  4. @Nate –

    We will definitely be posting more information as this cider progresses.

    @Chris –

    Cool idea. I will have to think about the setup of a garbage disposal fruit mill. With the kids running around, I would need to make it safe.

    @Sean –

    Thanks for your input. Now that we have the press and have our first attempt under our belt, we can experiment with the larger amounts of sugar and the flavor additions.

    John

  5. Ali

    you can use sulphite to sterilize the juice rather than pasteurizing it. Boiling the juice can result in a pectin haze developing, which will look like little blobs of jelly around the yeast in suspension. Best avoided, but it can be treated later.

  6. baynej

    I HAVE MADE HARD CIDER FOR MANY YEARS….I ALWAYS USED A PRODUCT CALLED “CIDER FIX”….IT ACTED AS A CLARIFIER…..I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE FIND THIS PRODUCT LATELY….DOES ANYONE HAPPEN TO KNOW ABOUT THIS PRODUCT AND IF IT’S STILL AVAILABLE baynej@webtv.net thanks!!!

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