Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Making Hard Cider
I've been vaguely interested in home brewing for years, but only as the willing sampler of another person's handiwork. Somehow, the jumbo-sized cooking pots, fermenting pails and extra equipment seemed overwhelming to me. But a small article in a recent issue of Mother Earth News magazine brought hard cider to my attention, and I began researching this ancient beverage. Did you know that hard cider was the most popular American beverage prior to Prohibition? Also, did you know that in Europe, all cider is hard (alcoholic) cider unless specified as sweet cider?
My first reference for making cider was www.makinghardcider.com. The author of this website describes the whole process in great detail, so I won't need to repeat it. I also purchased a book called Strong Waters by Scott Mansfield, who advocates making one-gallon batches of homemade beer, wine and cider. Creating small batches has allowed me to make three different blends of cider in a few weeks. The equipment set-up has been minimal, the learning curve is quick, and mistakes are less expensive. Besides, now I can choose from different spirited beverages for my late evening popcorn and beer routine.
The process for making hard cider is simple. Purchase a gallon of pasteurized cider in a glass jug. You'll use the jug as your fermenter. Choose cider with no preservatives, which will kill the yeast. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and a little champagne yeast. A teaspoon of yeast nutrient will help. Shake it all up in the jug and then cover it with a bung (rubber stopper with a hole in it) and an airlock. These supplies are cheap and readily available at your local brew shop. The yeast eats the sugars in the cider and causes fermentation. It's fun to watch the bubbles rising to the top, but I cover my jug most of the time with dark fabric because light can damage the final product. Fermentation is finished in a week, and then I bottle the cider into beer bottles with a teaspoon dextrose for carbonation. The cider will get a little better with time, so wait a week or two before enjoying.