Top 10 Tips for Cider Making at Home

The popularity of craft cider is fast gaining popularity around the world just as craft beer exploded in the late 90s. One difference between the two is that just like wine, cider is made seasonally with the main ingredient being apples. Apples tend to bloom in the spring, so take advantage of the surplus of apples that are available and make some cider to sip throughout the rest of the year. If you are wanting to make homemade cider we have put together a few tips to help you with the process.

1. Gather Ingredients

Don’t be afraid of ugly fruit! To make cider the fruit doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as the fruit is firm and solid they will be good for cider. We recommend that you shouldn’t use fruit that has spent time on the ground. This is because spoilage bacteria on the ground can impact the cider. Large soft brown areas of rot is something you want to avoid. Check out our list of extended ingredients.

2. Creating a Good Blend

One single type of apple doesn’t usually have all the qualities that you want in your final cider. Try to choose a mix of apples that are sweet, tart and aromatic. Most apples that are mainly used for cider are not recommended for eating, this being said why not add some crab apples to your blend, this will add some interesting flavour to your final produce.

3. Crushing Apples

Apples must be crushed to give a grated consistency before pressing. Apples can be crushed simply by pounding them with a bucket and a clean length of timber, note- this is a vigorous process. So freezing them beforehand will make this lot easier. Do not opt for a food processor as they will produce too finer a puree for pressing.

4. Pressing

Whether you are using a sophisticated fruit press or simply old boards and heavy weights it’s entirely up to you. The key is the more pressure you can apply, the more cider you will get. The basic technique is to wrap some pomace in a muslin cloth and squeeze the cloth until all the juice runs out and is collected. The juice will naturally be cloudy and contain small particles of suspended apple solid- don’t worry, this will add to the flavour and texture of the finished product.

5. Temperature

If the weather is cold, which is more than likely living in England, move the juice to a warmer place. Temperature shouldn’t be below 10 degrees, and shouldn’t rise above 20 degrees. Ideally your cider should be kept at 15 degrees for a smooth fermentation and to retain fruity flavours.

6. Fermentation

Be aware that there is most likely to be a fairly vigorous foaming start to the fermentation process- be careful, this can lift the lid. If the fermenter is indoors, place it on newspaper.

7. When does fermentation stop?

In making sure fermentation has stopped you should observe the airlock. If the bubbles have stopped passing through the airlock, your cider may have finished fermenting. To double check use a hydrometer to measure the Specific Gravity – if 1.000 or below the fermentation will have finished. Please note that after it has finished fermenting it will usually settle out reasonably clear- move to a cold place can help move this along.

8. Be Patient

If your cider doesn’t seem to be fermenting, just wait. If you are relying on the wild yeasts which naturally occur in apples, it may take one or two weeks for the fermentation to get underway. If there is still no fermentation after 2 weeks add a cultured yeast (Vigo cider yeast). If this doesn’t kick start it then you may have to add yeast nutrients which will revert it back into a healthy growth.

9. Adding Sugar

If you are finding the taste of your cider too bitter. Sugar can be added. Dissolve it in hot water to make a concentrated syrup. You can either add the sugar at the time of consumption, or else pasteurise the sweetened cider for long term storage, otherwise it will re-ferment.

10. Storing Cider

You can store cider in glass bottles, but first ensure that they are really clean. Bottles can be sterilised by heating in a warm oven – around 80 degrees. Cool them with the caps on before filling with dry cider that will not be pasteurised. An important thing to remember is air must be excluded at all times to prevent spoilage. We’d love to hear how you got on with making your own cider! Have any other tips you’d like to share with us? Tweet us @VigoPresses to let us know! Use these tips with our step-by-step guide but if you’d like to learn the step by step process from a member of the team, we can help you. You can get in touch by visiting out contact page or by giving us a call on 01404 890093.