WHAT YOU'LL NEED (borrowed from MotherEarthNews.com)
- (1) 5 GAL. plastic bucket (food grade)
- Spigot and airlocking lid.
- 4 to 6 feet of 5/16-inch food-grade plastic tubing
- Plastic or Stainless spoon
- Glass bottles to store the cider after it is produced.
- 5 gallons of preservative-free, sweet apple cider, preferably unpasteurized.
- Blending of sweet and tart apples is the biggest factor in making a hard apple cider. With modern harvesting techniques, it's becoming more difficult to find cider with the correct mixture of apples due to the added stabilizers. The stabilizers will actually cause the liquid to spoil before it ferments.
For a sweet cider, you typically will find a blend of 2:1 (2 sweet apples to 1 tart apple), for dry, reverse the ratio. Cider available in stores almost always contains preservatives. This is due to the fact that state and local laws require producers to treat apples with antibacterial sprays and often also requre stabilizers added before being put on the shelves. Your best bet is to probably contact your local wine supplier for wine making grade juice.
- Two packets of wine yeast (Lalvin 71B or Red Star Cote des Blancs are good choices)
- Optional for higher alcohol content: 2 pounds of brown sugar or honey
- Optional for creating a starter: one 16-ounce bottle of preservative-free, pasteurized apple juice
- Optional for sparkling cider: 3/4 cup honey or brown sugar
There are a variety of ways to make a cider, I recommend spending some time at northernbrewer.com and seeing what others are doing. It's not about being right or wrong, but more so what you prefer!