Homemade Alcoholic Cider

Homemade alcoholic cider

Since beginning a gluten free diet, I’ve had to switch from drinking beer to drinking cider. I like the taste, but good cider is really, really expensive here, like $5 a bottle. So I started to wonder if I could make it myself. I’ve been making beer for a few years now, how different could cider be?

It turns out cider is even easier than making beer, and you don’t need any special equipment. Sure you can go the whole hog and press your own apples, but you can also use store-bought apple juice and ferment it in the bottle in comes in. Obviously I chose the second method.

I can buy 3L (0.8 gallons) of apple juice for around $3, and add a small amount of champagne yeast (25c), and make 3L of cider for much less than the cost of one bottle of commercial cider. It takes about two weeks for the cider to ferment, and then a few more days to carbonate.

Because the yeast consumes all of the sugar in the apple juice, this is more of a dry cider than a sweet one, but I like that about it. I’ve been experimenting with adding in cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to give it a spicy flavour, and didn’t miss the sweetness. You could also try adding vanilla. It is about the same alcohol content as normal cider (around 5%).

Cinnamon cloves and cardamom

3L cheap, long-life apple juice (or any large bottle). Make sure it doesn’t contain preservatives (most don’t)
1/8 tsp white wine yeast (available at a homebrew shop)
Cloves, cardomom pods and cinnamon sticks for flavouring (optional)

Adding yeast to cider

Open the bottle, being careful not to touch the inside of the lid.

Pour out a small amount of apple juice. Add the yeast and flavourings (if using) to the bottle. Seal the bottle, then unscrew the lid a quarter turn to allow gases to escape.

Homemade hard cider

Leave the bottle undisturbed for about two weeks. It will go cloudy as it ferments and then will go clear again. When it’s as clear as normal apple juice, the yeast has consumed all the sugar and it is ready.

Next you need to carbonate it. I use glass bottles because I have a bottle-capper, but you can use old plastic soft drink bottles. Sanitise the bottles using sanitiser or boiling water.

Add 1 tsp white sugar per 750mL (0.75 quarts) of cider and cap the bottle tightly. Leave at room temperature for 3-4 days to carbonate, then it is ready to drink.

Chill in the fridge and enjoy 🙂

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  1. That’s interesting. I don’t drink, but I had no idea that cider was so easy to make. Have you ever tried making wine? I have always thought that would be a fun hobby.

  2. EcoCatLady says:

    Wow! I’m impressed! Fermenting things at home totally pushes my fear of food poisoning buttons, so I’ve never tried it – well, that plus fermented foods give me migraine headaches, so I can only have them in very limited quantities. Are you ever afraid of poisoning yourself?

    • I’ve been afraid of poisoning myself with some other things I’ve made but never making beer or cider. I think it’s probably because when I was younger, all of my friends were into making beer, it was just something we did because we were poor students. Very few of the brews went bad, and when they did it was obvious by the look/smell, so we never got poisoned.

      You do have to make sure you sanitise everything well, which is easy in this recipe, because the juice has already been ultra heat treated and is already sterile, you just have to make sure you don’t introduce anything nasty when you add the yeast. If a batch goes bad, then I would just throw it out and lose the $3 I put into ingredients.

      • EcoCatLady says:

        Well, you’re much braver than I am! I tried to make vinegar once, and the result was the most disgusting potion you can imagine, complete with a layer of about 3 inches of gray colored mold on the top. Not sure what I did wrong, but I literally needed a surgical mask to take the thing out of my house!

        I think I’ll stick to cooking for the time being. 🙂

        • When I was growing up we pickled (fermented) several things such as cabbage and beans. And unless things worked just right, it was easy to get the mold you’re talking about. The key to success according to my grandmother was to get just the right river rock to put into your crock to hold things under the salt solution.

        • I’ve always been too scared to try making vinegar because it sounds so complicated and so much can go wrong 🙂 This kind of fermentation is much easier because you add the yeast, rather than getting it from the surrounding environment. Although, maybe I should give vinegar a go…

          • Yeah been there done that and made some mighty fine wine! (And some rubbish lol) Wish I’d had your cider recipe, but. Vinegar is easy, you might get a mother off some unfiltered stuff or even better get a Kombucha going and let a bit go sour. You won’t ever go back 😀 Or really simple use yeast and let nature take it’s course. You’ll know by smell/taste if it went wrong.

          • Thanks for stopping by Christina 🙂 I’ve been meaning to try making vinegar for a while now (and kombucha). I really should do it soon.

  3. The only hard cider, as we call it, that I have made was from pressed apples and that was a natural occurrence. I’m like Lili and don’t drink, but my husband likes beer and makes his own sometimes. This is so much easier, I think we should try it. However, he really likes the bitter taste of beer, so I’m not sure what he will think.

    • It is so much easier than beer, and it also makes a smaller amount, which is great for me since I don’t drink a lot. It’s not as sweet as commercial cider, at least here in Australia, so your husband might like it 🙂

  4. Thanks for a GREAT idea/recipe! I also had no idea it was so easy : )
    I’ve helped with wine-making before, but I’ve never done beer or hard cider. In fact, I’ve only even tasted true hard cider (not the accidental stuff) when I was abroad. It’s not a common thing here – but I do like it : )

    • I also had no idea it was so easy – so when I found out I had to share it! I hope you try it out 🙂

      • HELP! I’m working on making this and need technical assistance – if you’re able to offer it. I let it ferment for 3 weeks before it looked clear (it’s pretty chilly here – winter) – then, when I thought it was all clear, I started to add the sugar and it foamed – kinda like when you add vinegar to baking soda. Thank goodness it didn’t foam over the top. I didn’t add any more sugar, and I didn’t tighten the lid. What do I do now – do I let it keep fermenting and try adding sugar again in a few days? Is it safe to tighten the lid after the foaming stops? Does yours foam when you add sugar?

        Any assistance is appreciated (I saw your post about your little explosion – so I want to be cautious!). I have the bottle sitting down inside a cooler so that if it blows, it’s contained ; )

        • Hi Anna, I had never had my homebrew cider foam up like that until yesterday. I’m not sure what causes it, but I have a couple of ideas. I normally add the sugar to the bottles and then add the cider, so that might reduce foaming. It also might mean that it hasn’t finished fermenting. What I did with my batch that foamed was add the sugar slowly, make sure there is some space at the top of the bottle and put the lid on tightly (I’m presuming you’re using plastic bottles). Ad the cider carbonates the bottle should become hard like a soft drink bottle, and once that happens you can store it in the fridge to halt further carbonation, or drink it straight away.

          I’m trialling this with my own batch, so will report back 🙂

          • Thanks a bunch! I’ll look forward to hearing how yours turns out. Out of caution, I’ve just left the cap lose for now & letting it continue to ferment (tho I may finish it before it’s mature!) Appreciate the help : )

  5. EcoCatLady says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but I keep thinking about it. I’m not sure if the folk personality of “Johnny Appleseed” has made it into Australian consciousness or not, but in America he’s sort of a legendary figure. He apparently traveled throughout the early American frontier planting apple trees and giving away apple seeds (which is sort of a curious way to do it because when you plant an apple tree from seed, the resulting tree might be a completely different type of apple tree from the one that created the seed.)

    ANYHOW… little kids in America all grow up hearing about Johnny Appleseed and he’s sort of considered to be a nice wholesome figure. BUT, the truth is that he was somewhat reviled by wives of the era because the apples that came from his trees were, by in large, not suitable for eating, only for making hard cider, which was the alcoholic beverage of choice throughout the region. So, many looked upon him as spreading sin and debauchery!

    Just thought I’d pass along that interesting little tidbit! 🙂

  6. I was so excited when I saw this post. This has been on my hit list for a while now. Will update how it goes!

    • I’m so glad 🙂 I hope it goes well for you – I haven’t had a bad batch yet. Just ask in a homebrew shop for the type of yeast you should use – I think you can use white wine or champagne yeast.

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