Making your own cider is a great way to use up extra apples and save a lot of money over store-bought cider. This is the basic recipe for making a simple, alcoholic apple cider, but as you get better at making it you may want to add other ingredients such as cinnamon.
To start, decide how much cider you want to make. Gather about five times this volume of apples. For example, if you want to make a gallon of cider, collect enough apples to fill a five gallon bucket. Ideally, the apples should be as ripe as possible. Be sure to remove all stems. Don’t worry about bad spots or other blemishes on the apples, since this will not affect the quality of the apple mash.
After gathering the apples, the next step is to press them to release the juice. The easiest way to do this is with an apple press. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. They are fairly easy to make. While there are multiple designs, start with a simple press. If you decide that you want to make cider on a regular basis, you can upgrade your design.
Get a flat piece of untreated wood, and a plastic bin with a hole drilled in the base. Place several apples in the bin, then press down on the apples with the board. Most people just step down on the wood, but you can also use a mechanical clamp. Have the juice from the apples collect into a clean bucket.
Once you gather all the juice you can, you will need to decide on sterilizing. While it isn’t essential to sterilize the juice, it is recommended that you take this step if you used apples with a lot of soft spots or any apples with mold. The easiest way to sterilize the juice is to add sodium metabisulphate. This can be found in any grocery store that specializes in home brewing. If you do decide to complete this step, make sure to wait at least a day before the next step.
Next, add your yeast. Any type of wine or beer grade yeast will work. Simply pour the yeast packet directly into the juice. Follow the directions on the packet to determine how much yeast to use. Wait about a week after adding the yeast to allow all of the sugar to turn into alcohol. At this point, go ahead and check the taste of your cider. After about a month the cider will clear, and become ready for bottling.
In order to bottle the cider, start by placing half a teaspoon into each wine bottle. Once the cider is added, the sugar will restart the fermentation Because this happens in a sealed bottle, however, the carbon dioxide that is released will dissolve in the cider and create pressure. Keeping your bottles in a warm place, such as a garage, for the first five days will encourage this reaction. After this initial period, however, keep the cider refrigerated. Later when the bottle is opened, the cider will sparkle.