Imbibe in some cheap, fast cider!

I'll drink to that! | September 1, 2019

There are sites that say you can make wine, beer and cider in a week. All I can say to you is, it’s not going to taste very good, and it may have a high methanol content. Yup, that’s right. All fermentations naturally produce small amounts of methanol, usually in concentrations too low, compared to ethanol, to harm you. But the percentage goes up with fast yeast fermentation. Be a bit patient, please. Fast = a month.

After several experiments, I am making hard cider in my basement. The temperature is a steady 70 degrees, and the fermentation is effectively finished in four weeks. Here are the best tips I have learned.Don’t ferment too fast (already told you that one)

  • Ferment in the bottle that the juice came in. Just start by using some gallon jugs from juice or water.
  • Don’t fill the bottle to the top. Leave room for top yeast and froth.
  • A one-gallon jug of juice will successfully ferment. I tend to buy 3 quart bottles of apple juice because they are cheaper than gallons. You can buy an extra one to fill up your gallon jugs, or you can brew some strong fruit or ginger tea to add and bring the volume up to a gallon.
  • One cinnamon stick snapped into two pieces or just one piece, will speed things up. The yeast goes crazy for cinnamon.
  • You don’t need fancy sanitizing chemicals and procedures.  If you don’t believe that, watch How Beer Saved The World.
  • Use the plastic 3-piece air locks, not the u-shape traps. You will need a few extra lids so you can drill holes for the airlocks. If you dont have spares, just put in a layer of wax paper in the cap  to cover the hole when you are ready to store it in the fridge.  Btw, the safest way to drill a hole in a cap is to use a step drill bit.
  • Buy a wine hydrometer. That’s the most tech you will need. I add sugar to set my cider juice for 6% to 8% before I start the fermentation.
  • Try several yeasts. Safcider yeast is easy and dependable and it politely stops fermenting after you refrigerate your brew. No nasty chemical Campden tablets are needed.
  • Don’t worry about decanting or siphoning the brew from the yeast remnants. They will settle to the bottom of the jug. Pour carefully, and they will stay there. If you are like me, the jug will be empty before the old yeast has any affect on taste.
  • The result is what's called a still cider. If you want carbonation, then you need bottles to capture pressure. That's another story...

       

When I have time I will be back to explain the process.