A Beginners Guide To Making Your Own Cider ( On A Budget)

Let's face it, it's not rocket science. People have been making cider since forever. So forget making your own beer, why not buck the trend and have a go at making your own cider. This isn't a full guide, but it isn't meant to be. This won't make the best cider in the world. If you do feel a bit brave, it will provide for a bit of a fun few hours and hopefully something you can improve upon and have another stab at some time in the future. As with so many things in life (cooking, playing a musical instrument, writing, or riding a bike) practice makes perfect. So this isn’t a guide how to make a 3-star restaurant meal, see it as being that first bowl of pasta with shop bought sauce, you can improve on it next time. (Cider purists take note acidity levels, sugar content, are all ignored for now).

All the stuff you need: Fermentation vessel, juice (in situ) yeast, airlock.

All the stuff you need: Fermentation vessel, juice (in situ) yeast, airlock.

The process is simple:

·      Juice

·      Ferment

·      Final tweaks

·      Drink

Stuff you will need:

  • Apple Juice
  • A fermentation vessel (such as a demi-john or plastic vessel)
  • Airlock valve
  • Wine/ champagne/ cider yeast (but not brewer’s yeast)
  • Stuff to clear up afterwards or one way ticket to elsewhere so that you can make a quick get away

 So here it is a very, very simple guide to making your first cider.

N.B If you are feeling lazy and wish to make cider using readymade shop bought juice, make sure you use the best juice you can. Go for juice not from concentrate, usually the more expensive stuff in the fridge in the supermarket or the stuff in bottles at the upmarket deli. The results will speak for themselves.

1. The ferment. Take your juice and either place in an empty large plastic water bottle or better still a glass demi john [also known as a carboy). If you are using garden apples, here is no need for yeasts, as the natural yeasts in the skins will create a fermentation . If using apples or juice which you have brought in you will probably need to add some yeast in. So get the nice clean, sterile vessel, and pop in the yeasts if you need them. The yeasts which you are looking for are wine/ cider/ champagne yeasts but NOT beer/ Brewers yeast. Follow the instructions on the packet, pop on an airlock and place the fermentation vessel somewhere to ferment. Avoid anywhere too warm (i.e. an airing cupboard) but a shed, garage, under the stairs is just fine.

2. The wait. Technically, ( and again, this is written for a have a go at home experimenter rather than anyone who is making cider commercially) it should be ready in a month or two. Do leave it though, don't be tempted to remove the airlock otherwise you may end up with some craft cider vinegar.

3. The results. When you are ready, give it go. If you are happy, stick it some bottles. If it's too dry, pop in some sulphides / campden tablet (kills any yeasts and therefore fermentation ) and sweeten with apple juice, sugar , syrup to taste. Et voila! Your first go and being a cider maker. It may not be the best cider you have ever had, but like with brewing, cooking or anything in life, it can only get better. Next time you can worry about acidity levels, sugar.

Congratulations, you have made your first step to become the next Cider superstar. Celebrate with a drink!