If you are already making beer and wine at home, the jump to cider is simple. The equipment is exactly the same. Spoiler Alert: it's actually easier than brewing beer! If you're brand new to the world of craft beverages, we will give you a step-by-step guide to help you make your first batch of cider at home! All you need is juice, yeast, some basic cider equipment, and an hour of time.
The basic steps to making hard cider are as follows:
1. Gather Equipment & Ingredients
- Juice. Store-bought apple juices make great hard cider as long as you avoid those that are stabilized. Read the label. If the juice contains sulfite, sorbate, benzoate or other chemical-sounding ingredients, it most likely will not ferment. Instead, select a juice that is pasteurized as it ensures there is no living or wild yeast present in the jug.
- Carboy or bucket to ferment your cider.
- Stopper and fermentation airlock to keep air out of your fermentation vessel.
- Cleaner & Sanitizer
- Cider yeast
- Corn sugar for fermenting and carbonating your cider
If you want to skip the steps of gathering all your equipment and ingredients, the experts at Northern Brewer have created a Hard Cider Making Kit with everything you need to make cider at home.
Northern Brewer Hard Cider Making Starter Kit
2. Cleaning and Sanitation
Whether you're making cider, mead, wine, or beer, this is the most important step of your brew day. Cleaning helps to remove any organic soils from your cider making supplies, and sanitation helps to kill any kind of living yeast or microorganisms that could be harmful to the flavor of your cider. Note: do not use dish soap for cleaning/sanitation. The oils in the soap could leave a film that leaves a nasty taste in your cider.
All-in-one Cleaning & Sanitizing Kit (Save $8):
3. Make Cider by Mixing Juice & Yeast
Once you've thoroughly cleaned and sanitized your equipment, mix the yeast in with the juice and sugar and let science turn it into a smooth libation.
- Mix your juice, yeast, and sugar (adding sugar raises the ABV)
- Place the stopper and airlock into the bucket or carboy. Ferment for 10-14 days.
- Carbonate and bottle.
- Crack open a cold one and savor the moment!
DIY Cider Making Video
Optional: Play With Flavor
Want something more mingling with your apples? Toss some fresh fruit or spice into the fermenter. Cherries, raspberries, black currant or cranberries pair well, as do vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, coriander, anise or crystallized ginger.
If you prefer a sweeter sipper, back-sweeten to taste. See Brewing TV – Episode 67 for a great tutorial on back-sweetening.