How To Make Cider: The Bluffers Guide
Cider - How to make at Home
Craft cider has a soft spot in the heart of many. The taste embodies Autumn and conjures up images of turning leaves, comfy sweaters, and log fires. Craft cider has been made for centuries since 55BC and was once a large industry.
This industry, however, is making a fast comeback! According to official figures, £911m worth of cider, perry and mead produced by UK manufacturers was sold in 2014, up from £812m the year before.
It just shows how craft cider has come a long way from the old-fashioned brew that struggled for relevance among modern age drinkers.
This article is on how to make cider just like they do in the West Country!
Cider Facts - Did you know?
● In the 14th century, many historians believe that people were baptized in cider, since it was more sanitary than water.
● When Caesar and his army stormed through England in 55 BCE, they found Celts drinking craft cider. The troops enjoyed the drink so much that they brought it home with them to Italy.
● If you want to make fantastic cider and also have ancient pagan gods behind you, be sure to practice wassailing. This is an ancient English custom used to please the tree gods, who would then ensure a bountiful harvest. Want to please the orchard gods? Place a jug of cider by the biggest apple tree. Then an ancient chant. End the ritual by banging loudly on metal objects, effectively scaring away evil spirits. It’s that easy.
● An apple cider a day keeps the doctor away. John Adams drank cider every day because he thought it was very healthy for you. And it must have been, as Adams lived to 90 years old. This made him America’s third longest living president, behind Gerald R. Ford & Ronald Reagan.
● Cider was such a large industry in early America that one in ten farms in New England operated its own fully functioning cider mill by the time the shot was heard around the world. People even settled debts with apple cider and often gave it to others as gifts during the winter holidays.
Nowadays, apple cider is available year-round in supermarkets and grocery stores. However, it’s actually very easy to learn how to make cider by yourself.
Here is how to make cider at home.
How To Make Cider - Necessary Equipment:
You can find most of the tools you’ll need to make apple cider in your kitchen. You’ll need a sharp knife. You will also need an apple corer, but if you don’t have one you will be just fine. It will just make processing the apples much easier. You’ll also need a food processor, cheesecloth, and a place to store the cider in. People often use mason jars for this.
Find the best apples for your cider. The best cider is a perfect balance between sweet and tart. Cider makers often blend different types of apples together in order to get the desired flavor. Finding your perfect mix will come with experience. Here are some of the commonly used apple varieties:
Red Delicious: A sweet red apple, very large and firm.
Yellow Delicious: A sweet yellow apple, very large and firm.
Jonathon: A semi-tart apple. Medium in size with a crisp flavour.
Granny Smith: A medium sized green apple, very tart and firm.
Gala: A crisp, reddish, and tart apple. Generally on the smaller side.
Simple Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Cider:
- Pick the apples that you enjoy best. Often people mix using ratios of 2 parts sweet apple to one part tart apple. Again, your preference will decide this mix. Make sure you get a lot of apples, as it takes one third of a bushel to make one gallon of cider.
- Clean the apples well. Cut out any bruises, damaged parts, and remove stems. As a general rule, don’t use apples that you would not eat. These probably will not taste all that great.
- Cut the apples into quarters. Leave the skins on for the nutrients, colour, and flavour that they will add to the cider.
- Blend the apple quarters. Use a food processor and process till your apples have turned into applesauce.
- Squeeze the applesauce through a cheesecloth, straining out all of the juice possible.
- Can, bottle, or put it into jugs! Enjoy!
- Always keep your cider cold. After enjoying your first glass of fresh apple cider, make sure to put the remaining cider in the refrigerator.
How to Make Cider Commercially
In a fully functioning commercial cider mill, the apples are washed, cut and blended into a mash that has the consistency of applesauce. The mash is rolled out and wrapped in cloth, put into the racks of a press. The press squeezes the mash, and presses almost all of the juice out. It is then collected and put into refrigerated tanks, which are kept very close to freezing. The refrigeration helps to keep the apple cider from turning into vinegar. The juice is then bottled and sold as apple cider.
How To Make Cider: Helpful Tips
● No matter how large your container is, you must fill it up to the top. If you fill your container only halfway, you will end up making apple cider vinegar, and nobody wants to drink that!
● Many question the difference between cider and apple juice. The consensus is that cider is raw apple juice and hasn’t been filtered or processed. Cider can “go bad” (turn into vinegar) if it is not kept refrigerated. Apple juice is pasteurized, filtered, and bottled to extend shelf life.
● Yeast require anaerobic processes. So the more space left in the container, the more air, which contributes to the vinegar taste.
● Choose different types of apples and process them separately. Combine the juices to see the difference in taste, colour, and consistency when using golden, green, and red apples.
● Process the apples thoroughly and make sure to strain as much juice and nutrients from the pureé as you can. Small solid parts will get through and give the cider a cloudy look.
● For large batches of cider, consider buying your own cider press!
● UK cider drinkers often prefer drier styles of cider. For a drier cider you should use apples like Granny Smith, Fuji, or Glory of the West. The professionals suggest that home cider brewers use just one apple variety for their first batch of cider. They say this allows you to taste the different characteristics the fruit has and the colour it has when made into apple cider.
If you want to learn in more detail on how to make cider properly we suggest these books:
Making Craft Cider – A Ciderist’s Guide
The New Cider Maker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Craft Producers
Real Cider Making on a Small Scale
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