In September, I went out apple picking with the kids, and decided to pick up some cider, to try to ferment it, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I don’t usually drink hard cider, but I’ve been wanting to try making it ever since reading about the process in Make Magazine years ago.
I ended up following guidance from these sites:
I really like the idea of working at a small scale – it works really well for our apartment, and limits waste while experimenting. Startup costs were really low – apart from the cider, I picked up everything at Toronto Brewing:
– Starsan sanitizer
– Lalvin D47 yeast (recommended by store staff for cider)
– Bottles (I re-used Grolsch swing-top bottles I started drinking prior to the exercise for bottling, and a wine bottle for fermenting)
– A food grade hose for decanting
– An airlock and stopper
My first batch was a bust. It turns out Downey’s farm adds potassium sorbate to their cider, and it didn’t ferment.
For my second batch, I went to our local Loblaws grocery store and bought their house brand cider. I added some brown sugar at fermentation time to increase alcohol content, and then added some dextrose at bottling time for carbonation. I fermented for two weeks, bottled, and tried my first bottle two weeks after bottling. The carbonation was perfect – lightly carbonated, tiny bubbles. But the cider was mostly flavorless – it wasn’t terrible, but didn’t taste great. I tried another bottle today, after 4 weeks – it was still flavorless, but somehow much better.
My third batch is currently in a second stage of fermentation. I fermented for two weeks, decanted, and have let it sit for two weeks. I plan to bottle it tomorrow. Should be ready to try around Christmas!