Apple Cider

The Lady of the House and I visited Eaglemont Wine and Cider the other day. They make good wine, we bought a bottle of their red blend, but it was the cider that held my attention. We bought a bottle of that too, and it turned out to be just the thing for watching an old episode of Lost at the end of a stressful day – nice delicate aroma, good flavor, and not too much alcohol.

How to make apple cider

I liked it so much that it got me thinking about how to make apple cider. At it’s most basic, it’s just fermented apple juice. In principle, you could just obtain some juice (from the store, a roadside stand, grinding and pressing your own apples, or what have you) and pitch the yeast. Like most everything else, though, there are some details you should attend to. Make sure the juice has no preservatives (other than sulfite), the specific gravity of a clear sample is between 1.045 to 1.065 (add sugar if it’s too low), and the acidity is between 3-5 g/L as malic.

I normally measure acidity as though all the acid were tartaric, but the acidity in apples is almost all malic and cider makers often report TA as malic. To convert, multiply by 1.1193. That gives a range of 3.4 – 5.6 g/L, as tartaric.

You can use the Wine Recipe Wizard to help with additions. I’ve made wine from 1-gallon jugs of apple juice you see in grocery stores (Trader Joe’s sells them in glass jugs for less than home brew shops sell empty 1-gallon jugs) and that would be a great way to start making cider.

It’s a lot like apple wine, but with less alcohol. Like wine it can be sweet, dry, or anywhere in between. Cider is often carbonated, but it doesn’t have to be. Try it!

Apple cider, juice, and wine

There’s some confusion about the word, so let me tell you what I mean when I say “cider.” If you start with apples, grind them and press them you have apple juice. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s filtered, cloudy, pasteurized, or preserved – it’s still apple juice. If you take that juice and ferment it, you’ve got cider. If, on the other hand, you add sugar to bring the potential alcohol up to wine strength and ferment it, then you’ll get apple wine.

Further reading

Some good books and websites with more info on cider and how to make it:

Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider by Annie Proulx – yes, that Annie Proulx. Before she became famous she wrote this great book on cider!

Cider, Hard and Sweet by Ben Watson

Craft Cider Making by Adrew Lea – He learned about Cider from his time at the UK’s Long Ashton Research Station.

The Wittenham Hill Cider Pages – Andrew Lea’s cider website

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  1. Pingback: Your First Cider | Washington Winemaker

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