Monday, January 10, 2011

Home-"brewing" Hard Cider

Cider(hard) has been in the American landscape since the colonial times. It was often the primary drink in a landscape that didn't have potable water at every turn. Many people think that it is having a 2nd coming in the USA.

Me? I'm just making it because I might be gluten-intolerant.

I have all of the necessary equipment to make a 5 gallon batch:
  • 6.5 gallon plastic fermetor bucket - "Ale Pale"
  • Rubber stoppers with an "airlock" to stop air from coming in, but allow CO2 to go out
  • Beer "thief" - to take small samples from fermentor
  • Hydrometer - to measure alcohol content
  • A beer bottle capper
  • A wine corker
That's really all I need. However, I decided that I wanted to test out a few recipes before committing to a 5 gallon batch, so I bought 4 1-gallon glass jugs for experimenting. ($4.95/ea by the way).

Here are the 3 recipes I used, which I based loosely on things I've read on the internet:

Orange/Ginger Cider
- 0.5lb of dark brown sugar
- the zest of 2 navel oranges
- the juice of 2 navel oranges
- roughly 3 Tbsp of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
- Top off with Apple juice

Cinnamon/Nutmeg/Cloves Cider
- 0.5lb of dark brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole nutmeg, cracked into about 6 pieces
- 1 clove (I'm experimenting here, and people say to be cautious with cloves, they overpower whole batches)
- Top off with Apple Juice

Plain cider (yes, its this easy)
- 0.5lb dark brown sugar
- Top off with Apple juice

For all 3 of the ciders, I dissolved the brown sugar in some juice on the stove-top, heating it slightly.

For each of the "spiced" ciders, I made a little tea out of the ingredients and about 1/2 gallon of Apple Juice, and simmered it for about 20 minutes to extract the flavors. I then mixed them into their jugs, tossed in some Nottingham Ale Yeast, and topped them off with juice before sealing them up.

These ciders had original gravities between 1.060 and 1.068, which puts them to be about 7.5% ABV by the time they're done. I'll probably sweeten them up with Apple Juice concentrate after fermentation (the yeasties eat up ALL the sugar in the juice, making it a very very dry drink).

From what I hear, these babies will stop fermenting in 1-2 weeks, and I will be able to bottle. Then another week or 2 before they're tasty.

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