How I Made Hard Cider

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Cidermaking at home is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to make your own alcohol. The key to delicious cider, is, of course, the apples! A crisp, sweet, well-rounded cider is made from a variety of apples.

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Our batch of cider used an old English variety (too old for me to even know what type of apples they are) mixed with Red Delicious, Cortland and some green apples. Very specific, I know. Each press was a different mixture of the apples and tasted a bit different. There are hundreds of apples recommended for cidermaking.

apples for cider
Image: Courtesy of YakkaFIT

If you don't have access to apples, unpasteurized juice can be used to make natural hard cider. Because of some (quite exaggerated) cases of sickness from people drinking real cider, finding unpasteurized apple juice can be a difficult task. Local orchards, farmers' markets or natural food markets may sell unpasteurized cider. Red Jack Orchards sells jugs of unpasteurized apple cider, when it is in season.

The ultimate way to make your own cider is pressing the apples yourself with a hydraulic cider press, or a screw-type wine press. Luckily we have access to a homemade hydraulic cider press! So after your apples have been picked and cleaned, the next step is to sanitize, clean, scrub and wash every inch of the equipment. (Most boring step!)Pomace

2. Feed apples into the grinder box. The whole apples are chopped up into easily squished pieces.
Pomace2

3. The ground pomace drops from the grinder box into a giant tub. This tub is then dumped into the press, which is lined with a woolen cloth. Slatted wooden racks are placed on top of the cloths.CiderPress

4. This process is repeated, stacking cloths and wooden slats one on top of another. The stack is then positioned underneath the pressing mechanism. Holding tank

5. Juice is squeezed out, flows through a tube, and into a holding tank as pressure is applied.Cider1

6. Carboys are filled from the holding tank with the fresh pressed juice.

7. The pressed pomace is composted.

Have you ever pressed your own cider? What would you like to brew at home?!

Now the fun part: MAKING APPLE JUICE INTO HARD CIDER

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