Ingredients and method
Cider making for beginners: The best cider is made from true cider apples, but an alternative is to use a mixture of dessert and cooking apples. If only dessert apples are available, add one pound of crab apples to every 10lbs of dessert apples.
Chop your apples or crush them with a heavy baulk of hardwood timber. Then express the juice by means of a fruit press. If you don’t have access to a press, there are several local cider makers who will press your apples for a moderate fee.
There are two methods of fermenting the pressed juice. Firstly, one can rely on the natural yeasts that are present on the apples and simply leave the juice in a fermentation vessel fitted with an airlock for a few weeks in a warm place.
Alternatively, and arguably more reliably, one can suppress the wild yeasts with one crushed campden tablet per gallon, then 24 hours later, introduce a dedicated cider yeast (one 5g sachet is sufficient for 5 gallons).
Leave the cider in a warm place, ideally between 15°C and 22°C, until fermentation is complete i.e. no bubbles passing through the airlock or, if using a hydrometer, a gravity of 1.000 or less is achieved.
The cider may then be separated from any residual yeast deposit by syphoning it into bottles or barrels for storage.
For sparkling cider, add ½ tsp of sugar to each 500ml bottle and leave in a warm place for a week or two, then remove to a cooler environment and leave until clear. Pour gently to avoid disturbing any sediment that has built up in the bottle.
Basic equipment you may need: