Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hard Cider

Heating the cider and the sugar
I love hard cider. This year we decided to make our own. Why? Because I love the beer we brew and wanted to see if we would love our homemade cider. I usually drink Woodchuck cider so I did a search for Woodchuck recipes. You guessed it, I came up with a bunch of recipes for groundhogs. Yuck! I never did find a recipe for Woodchuck Cider but I did find all sorts of methods for making hard cider. I found everything from leaving it out on the kitchen counter to naturally ferment to complex thirty step processes. I decided to try a fairly simple process: combining one gallon of cider with sugar and adding it to the rest of the cider, pitching the yeast, fermenting the cider, and then a secondary fermentation it in a carboy. Here is my recipe-- of course I won't know for a while if it worked or not. Feel free to take the leap with me!

Hard Cider

5 Gallons (19 L) of Apple Cider (See huge important note below)
4 Lb (1.8 kg) of Sugar
1 Package of Liquid Yeast

Special Equipment
1 Fermenting Bucket
1 Carboy
Liquid cider yeast in a smack pack
We took one gallon (3.78 L)  of apple cider and dumped it in a large stock pot with 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of sugar. We heated the apple cider until the sugar dissolved. (Adding sugar at the beginning increases the alcohol content of the cider not the sweetness). Then we dumped the hot sugar cider mixture and the remaining apple cider into a fermenting bucket. Once the mixture was 75F/21C we pitched the yeast. Now, we wait to see if the wee yeasties multiply.
After about four weeks, we will move the cider into a carboy and allow it to secondary ferment for about eight weeks.
The big question will be whether we want sparking cider or not. If we decide we want sparkling cider we will add 3/4 cup (180 ml) of honey or 3/4 cup (165 g) of brown sugar to 1 cup (240 ml) of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it is cooled, we will add it to the cider mixture right before we bottle it.
Everything is ready for the cider to be added
*****Huge Important Note About the Apple Cider**** For the apple cider to ferment you need the yeast to multiple and turn the sugar into alcohol (and carbon dioxide). The necessary chemical reaction will not take place if you have preservatives like sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate in your cider.


  1. Woodchuck Cider does have a whole section of their website devoted to recipes. Check it out: http://www.woodchuck.com/cider/recipes.html

  2. I was hoping to find a recipe for making Woodchuck Cider but the recipes using Woodchuck Cider look great. Thanks!

  3. How many % of alcohol contain your recipe ? Please
    Ho, and a nice advice, you should buy a bottle washer machine...I've destroyed maybe 5gl of cider just because of some bacterias one time...

    Marc, QC, (sorry for my english :( )

  4. We have no idea- it was dry cider and seemed to be pretty strong. I think we are going to try again this year. Just waiting for apple season.

  5. Where can we mesure the alcohol pourcentage ? and What is the purpose of a bottle washer ?