How to make hard cider


Rosemarybeetle shows how to make hard apple cider in Instructables.

If you want to face the wrath of the revenuers, you can jack it.

How to make hard cider


  1. In the united states it is perfectly legal to fractionally freeze alcoholic beverages. Basic Brewing Radio had an episode once, the host contacted the ATF (well the new agency that took over alcohol taxes when the ATF went to Homeland Security – the “Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau”) and they said there were no issues with home partial freezing, just distillation.

    1. Just so we are clear, it seems that:

      The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau does not care if you make booze via jacking, which can potentially elevate methanol and fusel alcohols to unhealthy levels… in blindess / death.

      On the other hand, if you take the same source materials, and turn it into the same strength booze via true distillation – which removes most methanol / fusel alcohols – well, thats a felony.


  2. this looks overly complicated, though it probably turns out nicer than what i make.

    step 1: open a gallon just of preservative free apple juice

    step 2: drink a small glass to make room at the top

    (optional*) step 3: pour another bit out and heat to about 80 or 90F. to make a stronger cider, dissolve some sort of sugar (molasses, white sugar, brown sugar) into this as well

    (optional*) step 4: add yeast to the warm stuff. let it sit covered for a few hours or so.

    step 5: pour the warm stuff back into the jug with the other juice

    step 6: poke a pin hole in a balloon or rubber glove, affix over top of jug with rubber band if necessary.

    step 7: put it in a cool place where it won’t be disturbed. wait 2-3 weeks

    (optional**) step 8: ‘rack’ into another sterile jug (vodka works well for sterilization, everclear is even better) or a series of smaller sterile bottles. add a few drops of simple syrup to each bottle to promote final carbonation if desired

    *you can simply put the yeast directly into the jug and snap a balloon over it, but starting the yeast in a slightly heated portion of juice helps the little bugs get started

    **you can drink it straight out of the jug but it will be kinda gross if you stir up all the dead yeast

  3. I do like the car jack press, though one can enquicken this step by using a scissor type jack and an electric drill. you’ll likely need a 1/2″ chuck, though you could modify the eye shaft to fit a 3/8″

    just take the eye shaft and put it into the drill and hook the eye through the jack. forward is up, reverse is down.

    this trick also makes rotating ones tires go a lot faster, even faster than using a floor jack (and with a lot less effort!)

    plus you’ll just plain feel like a boss when you see your car get jacked up in under 3 seconds using tools you likely already own.

  4. We just bought sweet cider in gallons when the local orchard did the fall press. Put the gallon jugs in the cellar and leave the caps off for a day. Put the caps back on, and when they blow off of their own accord, it’s ready to drink.

    As for making applejack, the jugs just go into a snow drift in the back yard.

    1. Brings back the memories, it does, Aunty.

      My mom’s garage makes wonderful hard cider. We’d buy a half-dozen plastic gallon jugs at the fall pressing and stick ’em on the shelf in the garage, and watch until they got all round. Never opened ’em or anything… her garage is magical.

      1. If it’s not been pasteurized or otherwise treated, there should be enough natural yeast in the juice to get it fermenting. No real magic required :).

  5. as for bottling, i usually just drink and sterilize a few jugs of mississipi mud. they’ve got wide mouths, screw tops, and the beer ain’t bad either

  6. I had good results from turning a spin-dryer into a centrifugal cider-press. You need to strip it down, clean it really well and make sure no traces of soap remain in the system but when it’s done, just dump your scrattled apples inside it, switch on and collect the run-off.

  7. Bleech – I hope your homemade tastes better than this bottle of “Pretty Penny Handcrafted” I just took a swig from. It tastes like my cider went bad….

  8. Jacking cider by freezing isn’t going to raise methanols and fusels to an unhealthy level. It’d be like drinking the fusels in an entire gallon concentrated into a couple pints.

    To crush the apples efficiently, I use an old garbage disposal mounted on a table. I wash my apples with the garden hose in the wheelbarrow. I toss them into the garbage disposal, seeds and stems, rotten bits and all. An apple has to be horrid looking not to make the cut. Only slightly horrid on one side = fine by me.

    Then the pomace is squeezed through flour sack muslin via the same car jack method through little 12″ by 12″ wooden pressing grates I made out of pine.

    Finally, the cider is pasteurized to kill any nasties. Yum.

    Makes great vinegar too, innoculated with a vinegar starter I have on hand.

  9. I make hard cider every year. My recipe is easy:

    5 gallons of local cider (without preservatives, otherwise your yeast may die)
    campden tables
    pectic enzyme
    yeast nutrient
    brown sugar (note: be careful of how much sugar you add. More sugar can mean stronger alcohol, not sweeter, as the yeast converts sugars to CO2 & alcohol).
    couple sticks of cinammon
    wine yeast

    Mix the whole thing in a big bucket (I use a starter kit from a local homebrew store). Let sit for 48-72 hours, or until fermentation slows. Siphon into a separate bucket, leaving solids behind. Toss some sugars for carbonation, and bottle individually in recycled beer bottles. Let sit for a few weeks.

    A few weeks later, you have dozens of bottles of tart hard cider (5%-8% ABV). Drink over ice.

    Totally easier than brewing beer, and it’s gluten-free.

  10. Yeah, really. Every jug of it (unpasteurized) that I’ve gotten in the past has always ended up getting some kind of alcohol produced in it unless it has been completely drained in a couple of days.

  11. as a citizen of german cidre capital Frankfurt am Main (moved here). like beer in bavaria, our “aeppler” has reduced tax, for culture! I have an add-on/question:

    – the article does not mention the laxative effect of freshly brewn cidre. maybe with this style of making it there is none? anyway, over here, the freshly made is called “rauscher”, which translates to “rusher” as it “rushes right through”. just a thought if you wanna go for a picnic with a few bottles of your finest brew
    – the champaign cork thing looks rather complicated. why not screw on caps on glass blottles? or beer bottles with a snap-on?
    – if you would choose to open up a frankfurt-style cidre-place, put up a crest of spruce outside your place to indicate that the good stuff is in
    like terribly out of focus in this picture
    – for frankfurt-style drinking serve the cidre in a vase-like thingy called a “bembel”, as depicted here
    they come in different sizes labeled with the content of classes in it. for solo-drinking the smallest one is a 5er, it can go up to 40 or 50 and they are hung up on a chain in a special frame for easy pouring.
    – they have special glasses for it, too. because traditional food here is very fatty, the glasses have non-slippy glass ridges and are therefore called “ripped ones” (gerippte). one bank even built a skyscraper to honor that style of glass in frankfurt
    – another benefit of brewing your own – you can be proud of your work. in frankfurt this means that even though mixing cidre with lemonade is very popular, guests are frequently hackled or even kicked out of cidre places for ordering their cidre with lemonade. it is considered rude like ordering salt with your food in a fine restaurant (“you think you have to IMPROVE taste??!! get out!!”)

    most of all, enjoy freshly made cidre. great summer drink!
    cheers from frankfurt

  12. Hard cider used to be colorfully referred to as popskull. It is about the most hang-overy stuff I have ever brewed. Beware! I made it a couple of times before I finally learned my lesson. “jacking” just makes it worse.

    OK that said. if you live in Maine NH, NY etc. Drive around and harvest wild apple trees you can find along country roads – a mix of those little runty apples from several diff trees makes the best cider. Drink it when its fresh. If it hardens…then make it into vinegar.

  13. Cider’s not hard, except the timing. It tends to explode.

    My Dad, an oldschool microbiologist, used to buy fresh cider from the orchards of Michigan, then shove a gallon jug of the stuff in the back of a closet. He stretched a clean cloth over the top of the jug, IIRC — otherwise, you get sudden foaming decompression in the closet.

    These days, I don’t know if you CAN buy unpasteurized, “bugs and all” cider from an orchard — or even this year’s crop.

    There’s a trick with packing apples into barrels, then flooding them with heavier than air carbon dioxide. The apples “keep” (sort of) for at least a year or longer, but they’re not fresh by any stretch of the imagination. I learned about this trick in a horticulture class at Iowa State University back in 1968. It’s not unheard of for Iowa orchards to sell a peck of apples which are freshly picked on the top, and a year old from the top layer to the bottom of the basket.

    So, yeah. There used to be honest orchards and real apples in America. We used to buy ’em by the bushel from the orchards of New York, too, in the Rockland County area back in the mid-Fifties. Like the lost American Elms, one of my fondest memories. Zombie apples ain’t the same thing at all.

  14. There’s actually a Museum of Cider in Brittany, France that I have visited. There, it’s traditional to have a bottle of cider with meals, instead of wine like the rest of France. They also drink this great fermented milk.

  15. For non-Americans: “hard cider” is what the rest of the world calls “cider”. What Americans call “cider” is what others might call “cloudy apple juice”, and has no alcohol content.

    So be forewarned, or run the risk of a second disappointment when asking for a “pint of cider” in a US bar (the first is that UK pints are 20% bigger).

    Perry/pear cider is apparently available, but hasn’t made the splash that it has recently in the UK, so I’ve not yet found anywhere near Austin that sells it. So, I guess I’ll have to make my own :)

  16. I’m glad if this works for the author and I love the whole homemade press and all, but not all apples make good cider. Look up Newtown Pippins somewhere, it’s what Martinelli’s uses. I’ve been home-brewing beers, ciders and meads since 1993, and I can’t recommend strongly enough the classic brewing how-to book, “The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Charlie Papazian, it’s written in a very informative but casual and fun style and it covers all the basics for brewing fermented beverages of almost any kind. The chapters on sanitation and bottling are universally applicable and would prevent some of the potential problems of the Instructibles author’s technique. Also you can set yourself up with decent homebrewing gear (bucket, glass fermenter, stoppers, airlock, hoses and capper) for probably under 75 bucks at Brew Craft in SF (but he’ll talk your ear off), or Oak Barrel Winecraft in Berkeley. Both are very helpful and knowledgeable.

    1. Welllllllllll, I dunno if I’ve ever had a *bad* batch of cider in the ~100 gallons of the stuff I’ve made. There are better and worse ciders, but it’s all been damn drinkable. :)

      The big thing is using decent yeast (red wine or champagne are both fine) and being patient. The first batch of year I can’t wait much more than a month and it’s…an acquired taste. By sprint the stuff has cleared up quite a bit. By summer it’s glorious.

  17. What’s the best method for making a sweet, alcoholic non carbonated Cider?

    I don’t know if anyone has ever tried it, but there is a cider “J.K’s Scrumpy Hard Cider” it’s organic, unfiltered hard cider.

    No carbonation, it’s basically just alcoholic apple cider and it’s absolutely delicious.

    I’ve wanted to make that. Can I just homebrew that with some Champagne yeast, and skip the added sugar to avoid carbonation?

Comments are closed.