When the leaves begin to turn and the air starts to cool, those are the clear signs that it’s time to make a batch of Hard Apple Cider. With a hint of apple and a delicious fizz, this crisp alcoholic beverage is the perfect Fall libation!
Hard Apple Cider is the alcoholic version of apple cider that’s first fermented and then aged for a few weeks to a few months to condition and carbinate.
Unlike Homemade Apple Cider that’s made from fresh apples, hard apple cider starts with commecially-made natural apple juice. How simple can it get?
After making your hard apple cider, it needs to age and condition in bottles to properly carbonate and become drinkable. I highly recommend using swing-top glass bottles like the ones in the above image. You can always use recycled Grolsch bottles or bottles that you find at a thrift store too.
Having said that… The hardest part of making hard apple cider is acquiring all the equipment necessary for the fermenting and aging processes.
I ordered the above kit from Amazon that’s made by CraftABrew. But if you’re a home-brewer or know one, you can use much of the same equipment. Here’s a link if you’d like to order your own kit:
Yes, it’s true that you will be deliberately introducing a living organism to your apple juice by using yeast. But, that’s the only one allowed!
The yeast that’s added to the apple juice will grow and multiply by consuming the sugars in the juice. It converts the sugar to alcohol and releases the resulting CO2.
If any bacteria gets into your fermenting cider, it will take over eating the sugar and turn your cider sour and render it totally undrinkable. And after all that effort. After all that waiting…
In order words, you’ll want to use a powdered “instant sanitizer” that will prepare all the equipment for making your hard apple cider. If you buy a kit, they will most likely include the packets of sanitizer. Double-check if you’re not buying the one I showed earlier.
Don’t forget to keep your hands clean by washing them throughout the process as needed.
The process of making hard apple cider begins by purchasing your favorite natural apple juice. Make sure it has no preservatives and is 100% natural. (ascorbic acid is the only addition that’s allowed)
I recommend using a clear, rather than cloudy juice, as it makes a cleaner-tasting, clear finished product.
You’ll fill the fermenting carboy jug with apple juice, add yeast, and give it a good shake. Placing an airlock on top of the stopper allows the cider to ferment and release the CO2 that’s produced. The fermenting process takes about 10-14 days in a cool, dark location.
When all the airlock activity has stopped and you no longer see bubbles being released, your cider is ready to prime and bottle. But first you’ll need to sanitize all the equipment needed for the process of siphoning your cider from the carboy and the bottles you’re using.
Now that the fermentation process is finished, the hard apple cider is ready to prime. Adding additional fuel for the yeast in the form of sugar water allows the cider to carbonate while it’s aging in the bottles. The sugar water is made first and cooled completely before it’s added to the cider.
Next it’s time to siphon the fermented hard apple cider from the carboy jug into the pot of cooled sugar water. The whole siphoning process is outlined in the downloadable instruction sheets you’ll find later in this post.
Siphoning the cider right into the pot allows you to thoroughly mix the liquid before it’s bottled.
Siphon or use a funnel to fill the prepared bottles with the primed cider. Don’t go much past the start of the neck, as it needs a bit of air-space for carbonation to take place. Now your cider will age for 2-4 weeks at room temperature in a location out of any direct sunlight.
Voila! You need only chill the finished product before enjoying over ice.
I’ll be serving my Hard Apple Cider to family and friends throughout the holiday season, so I thought it would be lovely to label the bottles. The finished bottles also make perfect holiday gifts too.
So I decided to create a set of both bottle labels and hang tags to make serving my holiday Hard Apple Cider a bit more special this year. And you can have your own set too!
They’re available for downloading and printing from the IFAFL Subscriber’s Resource Library. Not a subscriber? Just fill out the form at the end of this post and you’ll be given intant access to all our Fabulous Freebies.
I print my labels on Avery Shipping Labels (full page) and cut them out. They’re a snap to adhere to your bottles when they are at room temperature. I warn you, it won’t work on a chilled bottle that’s busy perspiring!
WANT TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER (NON-ALCOHOLIC)?
I’ve got a whole article on the subject, plus a video showing how apples are pressed at Sally’s Cider Press in Harmony, PA too! Check it out by clicking the link below.
CLICK HERE: Homemade Apple Cider
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