How To Make Hard Apple Cider
Last Updated 19/04/2020
Disclaimer: Brewing your own alcohol could produce a toxic beverage, infected with nasty bacteria and laced with methanol. You could die. Use this recipe at your own risk.
Crikey alcohol is expensive in Australia, which is particularly bad in these tough coronavirus times. Actually everything is expensive in Australia. Alcohol is worse because of the ridiculous levels of tax we pay. There’s an easy way to save some money and get some of that tax back: brew your own home made apple cider! The tax rate on alcohol in Australia is one of the highest in the world, and occasionally there’s activity for increasing the tax rates, from already world leading tax levels (recent alcopop tax hike for example). It’s time to take action. Even if you don’t like apple cider, it’s time to hit the government’s sleazy revenue raising tactics with some non-violent but possibly disorderly cider brewing protest.
Brewing cider at home is super easy and super cheap. No special equipment is required. No long waiting time. No meticulous cleaning of dozens of vessels. It’s so easy and cheap that you have to try it. It also avoids paying extravagant tax and produces a healthier drink due to lack of any additives or preservatives.
This recipe produces a dry cider about the strength of full strength beer. There is no sweetness in the finished drink. It’s a bit like beer. I’m pretty macho so I can handle it. The dry taste may be a bit harsh for some people. Follow the instructions at the end of the article if you want a sweet cider.
What is hard cider?
Hard cider is cider with alcohol. In Australia cider usually means hard cider. In other countries cider can just mean alcohol free juice so the alcoholic version is differentiated with the term hard cider.
Hard cider can be made with any juice. It doesn’t have to be apple juice, it just has to have lots of sugar and contain no preservatives. However from my experience hard cider made with other fruit just doesn’t taste as good as good old apple cider. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to anything that isn’t apple cider. Regardless, apple cider is the safest and most universally liked cider.
You’re probably not a vet or a scientist. If you’re not and you’re a single man or you’re married with kids then you probably don’t get much opportunity to inoculate. This is where making cider is truly rewarding. You get a chance to inoculate as much as you want. You need to deposit a load of yeast into the apple juice so that it may grow and prosper and become a strong, healthy, successful colony. It could be your proudest moment. The miracle of life. It’s amazing.
What You Need
This recipe is based on 2 or 3 liters of cider – your typical heat treated long life juice from the supermarket. You’ll find it stored on the shelves at room temperature. This juice is easiest as it’s cheap and the commercial processing renders it sterile which reduces the risk of infection when brewing. Just make sure it has no preservatives, because yeast doesn’t like preservatives.
To be specific during calculations and measurements, this article will refer to a 3 liter bottle of juice. However the same recipe can be followed for 2 liters.
I have difficulty with any recipe requiring more than three ingredients. This recipe requires exactly three. Actually the whole process adheres to the law of three – three ingredients, three pieces of equipment, three liters of cider.
The ingredients you’ll need are:
– 3L of preservative free long life apple juice (in its original 3L bottle).
– Yeast. Any yeast. You don’t need any special brewing yeast or champagne yeast. Don’t listen to those cider nazis who say you must use special yeast. Bakers yeast is fine. Your wife or mum probably has it in the cupboard. I’ve used fancy champagne yeast and did not notice any difference apart from the larger hole in my wallet.
– Sugar. Any sugar. Brown, white, raw, cooked. It doesn’t matter. Again if you’re too lazy to do a special shopping run just to make cider, you’ll probably find your cupboard already has sugar in it, if not then hopefully the cupboard of someone you know.
All equipment is optional. You can brew apple cider with exactly zero equipment using only the ingredients listed above. For a more refined and predictable product, the equipment you’ll need are:
– teaspoon (optional)
– funnel (optional)
– clean, empty 3L bottle (optional)
– Start off with an unopened, new, sterile 3L bottle of apple juice. The bottle is your fermentation vessel.
– Open the apple juice. Don’t touch the inside or lip of the lid. Place the lid upside down on a clean surface.
– Measure one heaped teaspoon of yeast. That’s about 3 grams.
– Inoculate the apple juice with one heaped teaspoon of yeast. If you’re a really hardcore tight ass bachelor and don’t have a teaspoon then you’re doing it pretty tough, but don’t worry. Just chuck in a small amount of yeast straight in.
– Put the cap on the bottle of inoculated juice and shake gently to mix the yeast.
– When yeast digests sugar it produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. You need a way to allow the carbon dioxide to vent whilst still keeping the fermentation vessel sealed against bacteria. Usually this means using a “fermentation lock” – a special fancy piece of equipment that can cost up to several tens of dollars. Screw that. For tight asses, you can put some glad wrap over the top of the fermentation vessel, seal it with an elastic band, and prick a tiny hole into the glad wrap with a needle. The tiny hole will allow carbon dioxide to escape whilst keeping the air space inside the fermentation vessel at positive pressure so that dirty outside air cannot enter. You can even use a balloon with a small hole in it – when there is no pressure the balloon contracts and the hole becomes very small but when under pressure the hole expands and allows the gas to vent. That’s too much hard work for me. If you’re a super lazy super tight ass, just put the lid back on, but make its loose. Screw it down until it starts binding, then back it off a little. Check that it is allowing air to escape by gently squeezing the bottle and observing the noise of air being squeezed through a small space.
– Double check that the lid is allowing gas to escape. Come back in a few hours to make sure the bottle isn’t getting hard. If the lid is tight you risk a catastrophic explosion. Pressure will build until the fermentation vessel ruptures, spraying shrapnel and apple cider everywhere. Apart from the mess, it could take out an eye. Actually bottles can take a fair bit of pressure and most of the time they wont explode. On Mythbusters they tested plastic bottles to rupture point up to 150psi, which is pretty high considering car tyres usually run around 30psi. Still it pays to be careful and minimize the risk.
– Wait. Watch the yeast grow strong. Take pride in the lifeform you’ve help reproduce. Marvel at the miracle of life. Be satisfied with the colony you’ve developed and managed. You will see bubbles appearing and moving to the surface. This is the yeast colony working hard to make you a tasty and refreshing cider. Thank the yeast for its efforts. Compliment it on its tax saving ability. Gently stroke the bottle and talk to the colony about its great future.
– Leave the bottle alone. Don’t open the lid. Don’t do anything that could risk infection.
– The brew should start smelling like yeasty, warm apple cider. If it starts smelling like poo then it’s probably infected and needs to be chucked out. It could also start smelling like poo if the yeast goes out of whack – for example if it’s too hot or starved of sugar. If you drink apple cider that’s been infected, expect stomach cramps, nausea, and a massive hangover. If you’re a huge tight ass these side effects may be acceptable.
– Yeast activity is proportional to temperature. The warmer it is, the faster it will work making you precious alcohol, up to about 30 degrees Celsius after which it get’s too hot and starts to slack off. You’ll need to wait anywhere between a couple of days to a few weeks depending on how active your yeast is. Make sure your fermentation vessel stays within the temperature range of 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. Thirty degrees is the maximum fermenting temperature but produces crap cider. As the temperature approaches 30 I find the brew has a more yeasty flavour and also increases the odds of some funny smells being produced. In fact every brew I’ve attempted at 30 deg C has smelt funky. Ideal temperature might be around 20 degrees Celcius. Lower temperatures generally produce a nicer cider, at the expense of longer fermentation time and increased opportunity for infection.
– Allow the yeast to completely exhaust the sugar reserves in the juice. This is signified by a dramatic reduction in bubble production. Once there’s only a couple of streams of bubbles running up through your brew then it’s time for the next step. Don’t wait too long. The longer you wait, the higher the chance of infection and spoilage. Also if you completely starve the yeast it can get angry and release unpleasant flavours. Don’t wait until there’s completely no bubbles.
– Congratulations. You have already made hard cider. It’s already laden with alcohol and ready to drink. You’ve got to this stage with nothing except a bottle of juice, yeast and maybe a teaspoon. If you’re desperate for cider then start drinking. The steps below are extra steps to help improve the quality of the apple cider.
– Thoroughly wash an empty 3 liter vessel. Wash it with detergent that kills 99.9% of germs as advertised. Shake vigorously.
– Rinse the empty 3 liter vessel. Rinse it extremely thoroughly because detergent ruins cider. Rinse it 20 times. Ensure all traces of detergent are completely removed.
– Decant the brewed cider into the empty 3L vessel. Do it slowly to ensure you don’t stir up the sediment. Stop decanting just before the sediment starts to pour. You want to avoid pouring the sediment. This will keep your finished cider as clear as possible and minimize yeasty flavours.
– Add 4 heaped teaspoons of sugar into the newly decanted brew. The sugar will carbonate the cider, making it bubbly like the finest champagne. The final portion of the fermentation process will be done with a sealed vessel so that the carbon dioxide produced will go into solution with the cider and form an effervescent drink. Add slightly more sugar if you want a more bubbly cider.
– Put the lid on, invert a few times and shake gently to dissolve the sugar.
– Loosen the lid to depressurize from the shaking you’ve just done then do up the lid again nice and tight.
– Now you’re in another dangerous phase of the process. There’s potential to explode the vessel and lose an eye.
– The bottle will become hard like a commercial bottle of fizzy drink. Allow it to brew in this way in the order of a day up to several days depending on temperature. Warmer temperatures will pressurize faster. If you’re worried about exploding bottles then only ferment up to point when the bottle becomes hard.
– Put your cider in the fridge. When yeast is cooled it becomes dormant so that it will no longer produce more carbon dioxide. If you find your cider is not fizzy enough you put it in the fridge too early or didn’t put in enough sugar.
– Wait for the cider to chill in the fridge.
– Congratulations. You now have a superior hard apple cider. Clarified. Carbonated. Effervescent. Delicious.
– If you wait at a week or few the cider will taste smoother and less yeasty.
Brewing in Hot Conditions
Depending on the climate where you live, it could be well above 30 degrees Celsius for long periods of time which is too hot for brewing cider. I’ve encountered this problem all the time being in Australia. I’ve made some pretty funky smelling brews in summer. Don’t let this weak excuse stop you from having a go at brewing delicious cider. You just need some water cooling.
Put your fermentation vessel into a tub of water as depicted in the photo above. You want the tub to be high enough to cover most of the fermentation vessel and wide enough so there’s sufficient surface area for evaporation to take place to keep the water cool. Let it brew in the coolest room in your house. Top it up with water as the level drops. Add some ice into the water during the hottest part of the day.
Another method is to put the brewing cider in the fridge for a couple of hours during the hottest part of the day. The yeast will suffer from high temperature variability, possibly leading to unpredictable results, but it’s better than having a brew that smells like ass!
How Much Can I Expect It To Cost?
Startup costs are zero provided you have a teaspoon, funnel and empty 3 liter bottle. Production costs are about a dollar a liter. That’s the price of cheap apple juice from a supermarket. Assuming you stole the yeast and sugar from your wife or mum then it’s a dollar a liter. If you needed to buy the sugar and yeast, then it’s still about a dollar a liter. The small doses of sugar and yeast are not significant costs. Let’s say $1.10 per liter to allow for a few teaspoons of yeast and sugar. To compare, a typical carton of beer worth $50 for 24 x 330ml bottles is 7.92 liters or $6.31 per liter. So brewing your own apple cider offers you around about an 82% saving over commercial beer. Most of that is tax.
How Much Alcohol
To measure alcohol content, you need some sort of instrument. A hydrometer is most common – it measures specific gravity to estimate alcohol content. Do I have a hydrometer? What do I look like, someone who isn’t a tight ass? No I have no way of measuring alcohol content, except for the feedback provided by my brain cells upon consumption. Based on the effects of drinking, I’m guessing hard cider brewed to this recipe is about as strong as full strength beer. Drinking is not a very accurate indicator, so I summoned my high school chemistry knowledge to help calculate the alcohol content.
******WARNING: Chemistry and maths below. Skip this section to avoid boredom.******
The most abundant sugar in fruit juice is sucrose. Lets assume it is all sucrose. The chemical equation for yeast digesting sucrose into alcohol is:
|C6H12O6 + Zymase → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2|
Zymase is an enzyme which we don’t have to worry about. What’s important is the stoichiometry – the ratio between reactants and products. One mole of sucrose produces two moles of alcohol. The alcohol produced is ethanol, chemical formula C2H5OH. Next calculate molecular mass of sucrose and ethanol.
|atomic mass||units in sucrose||units in ethanol|
So based on molecular mass and stoichiometry, 180 grams of sucrose produces 92 grams of ethanol.
According to the nutritional information on the back of the apple juice bottle, 100g of apple juice contains 10.2g of sugar. So in 3 liters there’s 306 grams of sugar. Using the ratio we calculated above, 306 grams of sugar will produce 156 grams of ethanol. The density of ethanol is 0.780 g / cubic cm. So the volume of ethanol produced is 156 / 0.780 = 0.198 liters. Total volume is 3 liters, so % alcohol is:
Calculated alcohol strength = 0.198 / 3 x 100 = 6.6% alcohol by volume
How accurate is this calculation? I really don’t know. According to information I’ve read about yeast, it will consume practically all sugar available. According to the perceived sweetness when drinking, there is no noticeable sugar remaining. So the majority of the sugar is consumed. There will be some left so the actual value will be less than 6.6%. But then we add a bit of sugar at the end for pressurisation which will top up the alcohol content by a small amount. Another unknown that could reduce accuracy is that the sugar in the juice may not be 100% sucrose. Also maybe some of the alcohol evaporates away. The actual alcohol content will probably be a bit less than 6.6%. So I’m sticking to my “about as strong as full strength beer” hypothesis. Maybe I’ll save up for a hydrometer one day so I can check.
Recipe Variation – Starter Juice
You can use any juice you want as long as there are no preservatives. Actually you can use anything sweet – home made fruit juice mixtures, sweetened tea, carrot juice. I’m not sure how good a flavour other juices or sweet drinks will produce. Also I’m not sure of their resistance to infection. In any case yeast will consume the sugar in any drink as long as it isn’t inhibited by preservatives.
Recipe Variation – Alcohol Content
You can reduce alcohol content by terminating the fermentation early. This is done by putting the cider in the fridge early. The problem with this method is that without a hydrometer, there is no reference point to know when it has reached your desired alcohol content. Yeast activity is highly variable. Through trial and error and experience you can gauge it, but it’s much easier to use the fixed reference of terminating the fermentation upon exhaustion of sugar.
You can add more sugar initially to make the cider stronger. There is a limit to the alcoholic strength of the cider, as yeast becomes inactive when alcohol content increases past a certain point. Most general purpose yeasts are ok for maybe around 10% alcohol content. Special breeds can tolerate around 18% or so. You can calculate how much extra sugar you need to achieve a desired alcohol strength. However I’m not going to do that here else I may pop a brain fuse or alienate readers with too much nerdy material.
Recipe Variation – Sweetness
Apart from reducing alcohol content, terminating the fermentation early will also produce a sweeter cider. Some of the sugar remains unfermented. If you would like a sweet full strength cider, just add more sugar after the pressurization phase just before chucking it in the fridge. Take care though, as more sugar at the end increases the risk of explosion.
The Finished Product
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Your sugar photo’s caption (ie “If the packaging says sugar then it’s good to go”) is misleading:
I used “sugar soap” into my hard apple cider mix and now I have a sudsy, foamy tang to the drink.
Good point. So are you saying sugar soap is no good or is it a pleasant tangy flavour? The suds, do they add extra effervescence?
Hey there! Can’t wait to try this recipe- thank you! Somehow I am not seeing the quantity of sugar needed for 3L apple juice… how much shall I add?
Hi Lindsay there’s enough sugar in the juice already but you need to add a bit of sugar at the end of the fermentation to carbonate it. A few teaspoons should do it.
I found your Blog because of the Thermomix post. I’m definately going to try this cider (I love cider), my hubby has a whole homebrew kit, but it looks too involved for me. I’ll try this method, then borrow his hydrometer and tell you what the alcahol content is.
Hi Naomi thanks for your comment, good luck with your brew. Let me know how it goes.
If by pleasant tangy flavour you meant the burning sensation associated with near-death experiences then yes, there was plenty of tang flavours there.
I could not determine whether there was extra effervescence as my eyes were swollen closed, and my mouth lost the sense of touch.
Good to see an Aussie site for apple cider. I happen to have 2 trees filled with apples, so I will try this by using a blender and strain to create the juice. I will get hold of a beer fermenter with airlock and go from there, (I have brewed beer successfully). Even allowing for the cost of these it will still be far cheaper than buying cider.
Awesome let me know how you go using you’re own apples. I reckon you may have an issue with infection. Commercial apple juice uses heat and pressure to sterilise. If you do have a problem maybe try boiling first but that will effect taste.
Well, the apples finally ready to pick. I ended up with 30kg of jonathons, and 10kg of fuji, (i think they were the varieties). I decided to purchase a juice extractor. The fruit was carefully selected to be blemish free, and was cleaned before juicing. What happened was absolutely beyond belief! The juice oxidised almost instantly, and became a rather sinister brown colour. This happened within seconds of being juiced. So i ended up forgetting this idea! Perhaps the apples were totally the wrong kind. I dont know how the juice is produced commercially, perhaps in a co2 environment to stop oxidisation. After all that i now have a fermenter, and juicer. They will be useful.
Ha dam what did you do with the juice? Did you drink it fresh? If you kept any it might be worth trying to ferment a litre or two just to see what happens. People do juice apples. I’m not experienced with it so can’t say if what happened to you is normal or not.
how many standard drinks is it per the bottle? (3L = ? standard drinks)
Hey max it’s pretty rough because I’ve never actually measured it but around 14 standard drinks in 3L bottle.
This is definitely the best page for beginners. I love the explanations – will try this tomorrow!
Lisa – brisbane
Hi Lisa good luck with your brew!
Made a couple of batches with your instructions, one with a bit of added suger. First samples are drinkable but just taste like a dry white wine. They have a fair kick. A bit more in the one with the extra suger. (Feeling tipsy right now after only one glass of each). I used a regular party balloon for the airlock (just rinse it out first)
I’ve now bottled in grolsch bottles with a little suger to carbonate properly. See how they are in a couple of weeks.
Hey Scott nice work, dry white wine with a good kick is an acceptable result. Hopefully with some bubbles and time you get more cider flavours. Maybe try other brands of apple juice too if you try again in case they yield better cider flavour. Thanks for your feedback, good to see some results!
I live somewhere cold, what will happen if it is kept below 15 degrees C?
Heya Harry I have no experience with cold weather cider production. Actually I’ve had the opposite problem of overheating. I reckon as long as it doesn’t get too cold for too long all that will happen is the yeast will go dormant and then start up again when the temp increases. Maybe the risk of infection increases due to longer brewing time.
Alright great! Thank you
Oh all those wasted years – those heady nights in the park after school with litres of cheap goon – why oh why did no one tell me earlier ??? But finally someone with some common tight arse sense has shown me the light.
Mr Outbackjoe, do you reckon you can use fresh Orange juice ?, got a mate in the yarra valley growing them but cant sell the fruit so i might have a crack at that too
Hey Meeper yeah I had similar cheap goon experiences. If you need a pillow in the park then goon is the best option. But if you’re a super tight arse then home made cider is the way to go.
Yes you can use orange juice. The problem with fresh is the risk of infection. Commercial long life juice is made sterile. I have no experience with using fresh juice. Ancient civilization did it without fancy commercial processes so there must be a way. Maybe try doing it completely fresh and keep an eye on it in case it starts getting funky. Wash the outside of the oranges thoroughly, minimize handling, ensure the equipment is sterile, get it into the fermentation vessel straight away. You could try another batch where you boil it first. Don’t know how that will affect the flavour. Minimize the time on the boil. If it ruins the flavour you could try heating it to 70 deg C or something, not sure what the minimum temperature is it kill everything off. In any case give it a go and let me know the outcome, I’m interested to see if it works with fresh juice.
Hey Harry, I’m in Tassie and put my 3lt bottles in an esky with a warm hot water bottle up in the lounge by the fire…..just sampling my first attempt at midwinter cider….not as fizzy as I’d like yet, but I only primed them 5 days ago….. if you are looking for a cheap,pleasant tasting alcoholic beverage you can’t go wrong!
thanks Mr Outbackjoe – i’ll let you know how this kicks off. Got some other, shall we say ‘inventive’ receipes that i will try with your economical techniqueas well. Trust the territory boys to find the light !!
Love the site and myself and another guy at work are trying your recipe out now – I had just a couple questions:
(1) How long does the Cider take to ferment in the first step? I was thinking it will probably be around 2 weeks?
(2) My first brew is very cloudy…how long does it take for the suspended yeast to settle to the bottom?
I’m going to try a plain blend and then a second with more sugar as well as vanilla and cinammon added at the second fermentation that I plan to name “Winter Cider for Tightarses”.
Hey Matt at 15 degrees the first ferment might take several weeks but I don’t have much experience with brewing in cold climates. At 30 degrees it will only take a few days. So it depends how active the yeast is. Typical time might be about 1 or 2 weeks. The brew will never be completely clear. Don’t disturb the bottle and carefully pour it off as soon as the fermentation is done. Most of the cloudiness will remain in the fermentation vessel. Then most of the rest will settle at the bottom of the storage bottle.
Good luck with your brew. It’s a good idea to tighten your sphincter in winter with some winter cider for tightarses. More budget for beer when summer returns.
Hi just put my first 6 litters of apple cider in the fridge can’t wait to give it a try in a couple of days, ill keep you up dated thanks heaps for the recipe .
Nice work good luck hope it goes down well let me know the result.
Ladies and gentlemen – i must advise to all of you DO NOT i repeat DO NOT attempt to use Oranges as i so foolishly did as per earlier posts. Despite almost perfect cleanliness and care, i had only succeeded in making pure evil. Not only did i nearly poison myself to death (and now have a reaction to anything citrus), the smell so entrenched in the house is enough to actually kill a brown dog. i would have been better off drinking the liquid from a PNG highlanders penis gourd after it was being worn for 6 months straight. Man it was crook.
i apologise Mr Outback Joe – i have had step back from trying to emulate your tightarse genius and revert to the over priced misery that is ice cold goon. Oh my public shame.
But truly folks – if you are attempting anything like this – please be as careful as possible and always triple check your stuff as accidents can (and DO) happen.
i look forward to reading future genius on this site –
The Meeper –
The Meeper thanks for the feedback. So it seems infection is a problem when using fresh oranges. I suspected that would be the case but it was pure speculation. Now we have the proof. Nice work on giving it a go. It was an interesting experiment. How much infected festy cider did you drink for you to almost die? If you get a chance give long life juice a try, the risks are much less extreme. In the mean time keep away from those PNG highlanders.
Hello Joe – only just had the cursory couple of sniffs and maybe a lick of the devils fluid and that’s it, down the old Meeper went for a couple o’days. Either that or it was the black mould spores released from whatcan only be described as a “Mount Krakatoa” that was one of the kids long forgotten school lunches found at the bottam of their school bag. Will give the long life stuff a go as you so sagely suggested.
you keep up the good work Joe
i have heard that citrus fruits are a problem (cannot validate though).
i have tried a ginger, orange, grape mixture recipe and that came out as bad… but i have people who have successfully made that.
Ginger definitely is an option but part of the ginger process is to boil it in water which renders it sterile. Yeah I’ve never seen citrus done successfully but the test would be to use long life heat treated citrus juice.
Hey Meeper, I would expect you’d have to pasteurise any fresh juice for this to work safely. Heated slowly to below boiling (milk they do to at least 72C I believe) and kept there for, what, a minute? I don’t know.
Thanks for the post outbackjoe. I have a fermenter on the way and this will be project one. (Sorry it won’t be quite as tightarse as your exact method).
Yo Brisboy yeah some sort of heat treatment would fix the problems with fresh juice. But how did they make stuff in the old days? Boil it up in a big pot? Or did they have some other method?
Fermenter ay. Sounds fancy. Good luck with your brew.
Outbackjoe, great post.
Keen to know about the the expected shelf life once safely in the fridge? Also have you had any experience adding a preservative post fermentation to give an extended shelf life?
Heya DB i dunno how long it lasts, I’ve always finished it within a couple of weeks. Not sure about preservatives either.
simple, understandable and works like charm
Loved the way you explained everything with a typical aussie humor. Going to try making some this week. got a gingerbeer brewing atm so i’m all set. thanks Jenny Melbourne
Yo Jenny good luck with your brew. Ginger beer ay, I’ve gotta try making that stuff, it’s pretty easy from what I’ve seen.
Have you done a ginger beer since this post? I’d be curious to see how.
Ginger beer is brewed like proper beer, with grain and malt and sugar mixed into a fermentation vessel. You could chuck some ginger into the cider for extra flavor but I’ve never tried.
hey Joe, just writing to see what you’ve been up to lately and where you are. I’ve made a crazy amount of your apple and pear cider over the years. I’m back home from the east kimberlies now. retired and loving it. cheers Petrus van kaathoven goolwa beach SA
Hey Petrus. Retired – that’s excellent. I’m nearly there. I’m back in the rat race at the moment in Perth. I recently had an experience with a investment property that cost me more than it should partly due to corona. So I’m doing a few months work to cover that then I think I should be finally free of this oppression!
I haven’t been brewing much but once I’ve corrected my rat race situation I’ll be back to brewing cider, brewing beer, tending to the garden, building stuff, decimating local fish populations. By the sounds of things you’ve brewed more than me, you’re the cider expert, maybe start a hobby brewery?
hi joe, firstly. i love the entertaining instructions given. I put 2 bottles in the shed 6 days ago with the ingredients given and a balloon for an airlock. im not sure of the exact temp in my shed but im guessing maybe 22. they never bubbled a great deal but they started slowing down today. ive just finished bottling the first one. I’m going to leave the other for a few more days. the problem is, from your description, i feel it never bubbled enough. i suppose i’ll find out soon. might have to go and buy a fancy pants hydrometer from the local brew shop to see how alcoholic it is,
Again, Thankyou heaps for the awesome instructions :p
Hey Sam you’re welcome dude. How did your ciders go?
Am going to combine your work with this… http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_freezing
Going to make applejack, cause who has the time to drink 3litres of cider
Yo Ben you’re making applejack ay. Interesting. Yeah concentrating alcohol for drinking can be a real time saver. How do you control the fractional freezing process in a DIY arrangement? Would be awesome if it works, good luck.
An old post but this might help.
The Apple’s juiced won’t look like the bottled stuff.. The bottled stuff is reconstituted.. From imported and local ingredients.. Apples from china and Water from Australia.. I live in Tassie and that is from an Apple grower who makes cider.
Apple Cider is the bomb digity as is Pear. Might test this method out just purely as an experience. Apples are $1kg down here, so very keen to give the home brew of fresh apples a try. I’ve seen it down and there was no mentioning of needing to boil but a substance was added to kill bacteria, etc from memory. Tassie is fruit fly free and alot of growers don’t use chemicals plus they are freshly picked.. where as woolies your talking weeks if not months old fruit that has come out of cold storage.
Yo dan sounds like ur apples in tassie could make some superior cider. How to avoid spoilage is the question. Let me know if you do it successfully.
We’ll take our 4WD to Tasmania one day. Would be awesome to camp our way around, there’s some rugged and beautiful places from what I’ve seen. Might see you there for a cider or two.
I can’t seem to get any gas in my brew, I’ve tried everything. Just comes out flat. I add soda water to it and it tastes alright but I want gas! !
Hey Petrus, chuck a bit more sugar in the brew at the carbonation stage and allow it to carbonate with the lid tight at room temperature for longer – maybe a week or so depending on your climate.
g’day buddy, I really enjoy your stuff and have passed you on to my mates. I’ll try more sugar, see what happens. keep up the good work. I’m in kununurra so it’s pretty warm here. I put brew in cool water as you suggested cheers pete
Kununurra is pretty bloody hot. Is the smell and flavour of your brew ok? I made a few smelly ones living in Katherine which I think has a similar climate. Really freakin hot particularly in the buildup.
Let it carbonate a bit longer too. I think I was a bit conservative with worrying about people getting upset if the bottle exploded. I think the risk of that is low and it should be left to carbonate a bit longer. I’ve adjusted the article.
I’m leaving the brew out of the fridge longer. See how that goes. Have you ever tried to get red claw yabbies in opera house nets, I’ve tried here in kununurra with no success. Mango and catfish for bait. Where abouts are you now?
I have used opera house nets in NT but have only ever caught cherabin. Used dry cat food in stockings as bait. I am in Perth, back in the rat race for the time being so only doing the occasional mission out of Perth for now.
I know that you look with scorn on “cider nazis”. (Deep breath) – However, if you want a slightly different taste you can use a larger yeast. This will ferment in the fridge @ 4-8 C. it will take 1-2 weeks to finish (rather a long time) but I find that it has a cleaner taste than using baking yeast. Well different anyway. You also have less chance of some strange yeast sport making your cider taste like crap and the chance of bacterial infection is also reduced, ’cause you are @ 4-8 C. I don’t bother with adding sugar for carbonation, after a while the activity reduces and I have taste, when most of the sugar has gone but it still tastes a little sweet I screw down the cap tight and leave it for a couple of days. Then pour and enjoy. You can get dried larger yeast from brewing supply shops for about $6.00-$10.00 a packet which I find will make about 4 brews if you make a starter. I know at that price it breaks the tightarse code, but perhaps for special occasions? Once in a while I have been known to throw in a cinnamon stick or clove, which I find is a nice Christmassy addition. I suppose you already know that the true brewing tightarse would look down their nose at buying ANY yeast. Coopers sell their yeast at bottle shops and it comes with free beer! Get a stubby of Coopers Red, drink all but the last bit and and add sugar and water and grow up a whole mess o’ wup ass starter yeast for free! It’s an ale yeast though and needs > 18C to kick off a ferment. Cheers.
A yeast that brews in the fridge? That is awesome! Especially when it’s freakin hot and my cider smells funky. I think it’s worth a try even at the huge expense you indicate.
I should add a section on jazzing it up with some cinnamon and stuff. Good suggestion.
The yeast coopers use, will that also brew in the fridge?
No. Coopers Red is an Ale yeast and its activity will drop once you get below 16 degrees. It does give your cider a rather interesting beery flavour though but you have to brew as you have described in your excellent article above. I think that Coopers do sell a larger yeast (Pilsner yeast is the same stuff) but you would have to ask in a brewing shop. I don’t drink their larger so I have never swiped their larger yeast (not sure if it is even possible – larger is usually sold “sparkling clear” not cloudy and it may not have enough yeast left in there to grow up into a starter).
By the way if you do decide to use a larger yeast, pitch the yeast in the juice at room temperature and make sure it is “going” before you put it in the fridge for a fortnight. But you would probably do that anyway I suspect. – Good luck with your brewing.
Hey, do you think if time isn’t an issue that 15 degrees is the optimal temperature or is 20 a safer bet to make sure it actually ferments?
And would I have any issues leaving it longer than the fermentation process takes?
I mean, I understand the increased risk of infection but is fermented cider going to go bad sitting in the same spot for a week or two longer?
I ask because I have a fridge and a thermostat so I can keep the fridge at a constant temperature and I’m going on holiday soon but I’m considering putting a bottle in there before I leave but I’ll be gone 3-4 weeks
Hey dude I reckon constant 15 degrees would produce a tasty cider, provided it’s warm enough to activate the yeast. Check that the bubbles start cranking up after a few hours. Maybe start the brew at room temperature to ensure it activates.
Leaving it for a while after sugar exhaustion can cause funky flavours. But I dunno if it’s coz of infection or (in my case) being too warm or the yeast making some funny reactions when the sugar runs out. Given your fixed 4 week timeline, the best bet would be to minimise temperature since that reduces growth rate of bacteria.
What you suggest sounds like an awesome experiment. I’d like to try it in my fridge this summer. Give it a go and report back!
Hey, I did what I was talking about (Months ago now) and it was delicious. I drank it all on an empty stomach the day before I had to fly our again and I felt pretty horrid. Not sure if it was because I drank too much without a proper feed or if it was related to my brewing but I didn’t actually get sick or anything so I’m giving it another shot now. Just about to start priming.
RUnning two lots this time. One with about 15 cut up strawberries in it. Last time, I found adding apple juice to the end product (about 1 juice : 5 cider ratio) really improved the taste while obviously it decreased the alcohol content. Not really an issue for a quiet drink after work so I’ll probably do the same again.
Nice man. So 15 degrees did the job? You drank 3 litres of cider on an empty stomach in one sitting? Wholly crap. That’s like 9 beers! I’d feel pretty crap too, provided I didn’t die!
hi just put yeast in and nothing
Hi Garry it might be too cold or your yeast is too old. Otherwise if you provide more details I might be able to help more.
thanks for that i put 2 tablespoons of yeast its not 2 old i just brought it to try your cider now its bubbling away how long do i have to wait 2 put the sugar in dose it matter i put 2 spoons of yeast in or is that 2 much thanks garry
Hey Garry shouldn’t matter that you put in extra yeast. Wait until the rate of bubble production slows right down before bottling with a little sugar for carbonation.
hi garry here u say when u put sugar in dont put in fridge or can u which is best 4 t alcohol i like it with a bit off a kick how can u tell what % is it . Thanks garry
You need to leave it out of the fridge to let the yeast continue to work.
So going to try this. My new found love of cider is killing my bank account. Hope it works out for me. Thanks outbackjoe!
You’re getting ripped by the government. Brew it yourself. Good luck.
Love the cider, the only problem is that the toilet is my best friend. What’s going on?
Haha not sure what your problem is there. What quantity of cider do you consume in one session? Too much alcohol can cause what’s known as a “grog bog”. If cider smells and tastes fine then I doubt it’s infected.
you are a genius l have just started drinking cider and like the 8% alcohol mark will now attempt
to do my own will let you know how it goes. Rob G Finley NSW
Good luck dude yeah come back and tell us.
Absolute failure smelt like dog shit, tasted like dog shit, so I think I discovered a recipe for dog shit
Ha bugger yeah it could be the recipe or it could be the chef. It probably got infected.
No only my fault will try and revise my hygiene
Stoked to come across this site, I’ve been making my own 2 Buck Chuck for ages and its good to find others that do the same and understand how good the results can be! i use fresh apple juice i press myself boiled at 80° for 5 mins and i havent had any bad batches aa yet. i also have just tried a candy ginger beer using dried candied ginger. worked a bloody treat. keep up the good work cobb.
I made this brew south of Alice springs in a tent during a 4 month getaway mid last year (no alcohol allowed, I would have none of that). This was dusty and I was living in a tent! Turned out great, tasted about 6-7% bit cloudy but better than nothing. I’m starting a new brew in the safety of my garage in SE QLD now…
Haha bootlegging ay. Hope your new brew does the job for you.
There is an easy way to make a sweeter cider and let it ferment to completion. I have been doing some 5 litre test brews. If you add lactose (available from brewing shops for about $12 kg), it sweetens but does not ferment. A good starting point is about 50g in 5 litres.
I’m doing my test brews in a 5 litre glass demijohn, then bottling in longnecks. Its enough to share it around and get opinions. Once I have decided on the right amount, its 24 litres in the fermenter and we are in mass production.
Lactose ay. Thanks for the tip Stuart. If you get a chance come back and let us know how your brew went.
I’m pretty sure it may not have been your intention at the time, but dabbling with cider following your inspiration led directly to the glass of (fruit) wine I’m now drinking. (Six months in the bottle though.)
Nice one you made wine yourself? That’s quite a step up from dodgy apple cider. Awesome. It’s a great hobby with heaps of scope to get creative and fancy. Plus it saves you money. Doubly good.
As i was picking up the stuff to make this amazing brew, i realised that it’s funny how everything you need to make alcohol you can buy at a supermarket, i think only someone who was under 18 would think of that.
Because I happen to have a shitty coles supermarket and didn’t want to spend $5 on a 3L bottle of apple juice i ended up getting a 2L bottle at the low price of $2 the $3 yeast is what really hurt though.
I improved by having an actual teaspoon measuring thingy and not quite filling it to the top, hoping it will turn out.
I was wondering how you can keep the apple cider once you’ve opened it from the fridge, can you just pour a glass and stick it back in the fridge? Also do you think it would be alright if you decanted it into smaller bottles then put sugar in them so that it is easier to drink without disturbing the rest.
My boyfriend got me onto this, he also got a 2L bottle but he said that the bubbles stopped after a day, then he added the sugar he hasn’t tried it yet but i’m sure this can’t be right. Although he did use a whole heaped teaspoon and then added 5 spoons of sugar so i don’t know.
You said to get a sweeter brew adding sugar right before it goes in the fridge is best however i don’t want a huge explosion in the fridge, guess i’ll get to that when i have to although i think i’d prefer a sweeter brew.
Thanks for this, you’re helping teens everywhere!
Dam that yeast stings the wallet. Hopefully it lasts a few rounds of brewing. Yeah just fill up yer glass and put it back in the fridge. You can put it in smaller bottles but they’ll all have to be meticulously clean and sterile. I dunno how long it lasts in the fridge, mine has always been drunk within a week. Watch out your tender young brain is still developing and will become stupefied by booze.
Any thoughts on how this would work with other options such as blackcurrant or orange juice?
Hey Joan yeah it should work, as long as there’s sugar it should work, but I’ve never tried it. Infection is a risk if doing it with stuff that isn’t processed and heat treated. But there must be a way to control it, people have been doing it for millions of years, I’ve never looked into it.
Great, I have made sake with just a flagon. .glass.. mashed brown rice sultanas water sugar yeast. And a balloon on top. Wait till the balloon goes down a bit. Add an eggshell as a finer or clarifier near the end. And sake.
Sake nice one. I’ll try making it one day.
Hey Joe! We made this cider a few weeks ago using under-ripe cooking apples from a wild tree on the side of the road – we juiced them and even though the juice tasted awful, was cloudy, and green as green could be, we boldly pressed on (we didn’t even pastuerise it!) . We followed your instructions from then on, and this afternoon our first hesitant sip proved extremely fruitful! We were ex-cider-ed to say the least! It was fantastic; it was completely clear, beautifully fizzy and we are still here to tell the tale so it can’t be too poisonous!
Thanks heaps for the post; we will be doing this regularly from now on!
Wow that’s awesome. Side of the road apples, I tip my hat to your tightassness. You’ve probably made the cheapest cider in the universe. Impressive that it never got infected. Did the novelty wear off or was the whole brew delicious?
Thank you so much for this awesome post! Seriously I was looking into making organic cider as the cost is around $7 per bottle at our local. I figured I would be purchasing all this fancy gear. All I did was tweak it with organic apple juice and looked around for some organic yeast. (very hard to find and had to be imported from the US, so I didnt bother). I tested a woolies brand for gluten and all clear.
I just finished the second round of fermentation, so they will be going in the fridge tonight…. so looking forward to it! I will be taking it to my mates wedding on the weekend 🙂
Thanks again legend for the awesome post,
Hey man nice one glad to help. Taking your first ever brew to lube up a wedding is pretty enthusiastic. How’d it go?
haha hey man…. Nah i bitched it lol! It had only been settling in the fridge for a day so still looked pretty murky. I took a case of Strongbow instead ;/
I thought it would do better sitting for a while first. Still settling in the fridge now 🙂
Thanks again mate 🙂
Petrus van here Joe. Back in goolwa beach sa now, using only apple and blackcurrant for my cider. 3years brewing and still loving it. Cheers.
Hey dude welcome back. You brewing regularly now? How did you resolve your overly intimate relationship with the toilet? You using al-cheapo long life blackcurrant juice or something different? Any tips?
Yeah Joe all good. Leaving the cider for 10 day’s or more 2nd stage gets it nice and clear and decantering out the dregs makes a wonderful brew . definitely use bottles that have had fizzy drinks in them for the 2nd stage. Teaspoon sugar tighten up and shake like shit.10 days later 1/2glass ice fill with cider and enjoy.
I was a teenager in the 60’s. We had apple trees (Granny Smith and Delicious apples). I don’t know why but one day I decided to get a bucket and grate a few dozen apples into it. I also mixed in a box of sultanas, filled the bucket to the top with water and put a tea towel over the bucket and put it in my dad’s shed. I left it for a week in the shed. It was autumn so the temperature would have been in the 20’s C (70 F back then)
I strained the mix through a tea towel and bottled it in long neck beer bottles. Grandpa and dad made home brew so I had access to a bottle capper. I ended up with 10 bottles. I laid them down on the concrete floor of the pantry.
A week later 8 of the bottles exploded. Was I popular. NOT! It took me hours to clean up the mess. My brother and I opened the remaining two bottles. It tasted good so we started drinking them. The hydrometer gave us a reading of 11%!
I reckon I was really lucky getting a wild yeast to inoculate the brew that didn’t turn the brew to cat’s piss.
My brother and I got very drunk and a bad hangover ensued next day. Ah, the good old days.
Thanks for the instructions Joe, looked so easy I had to give it a go!
I think I may have been overly keen though, can’t get 3l of apple juice in Woolies anymore so got the 2l bottle, I used a heaped half teaspoon – could this have been too little as I got a nice steady stream of bubbles but this died down within 2 days?
I put into a second bottle with the sugar and left to pressurise, wasn’t sure the bottle would hold, it was the only one I had and didn’t want a mess, so it only pressurised for about a day.
From what I’ve just read in the comments, the first stage should have taken a good few days to around a week? It’s mid 20’s here at the moment. Would this have been due to too little yeast? I guess it better to have too much than too little.
How long should the pressurisation stage take roughly? In this stage is it adding fizz and becoming more alcoholic, because there’s no more sugar for the yeast to work it’s magic on?
I think I might have a mildly alcoholic cider with a little fizz in the first batch, but I’ve got a couple more bottles ready to give a go.
I think the engineer in me wants to know all the variables but the drinker in me just wants cider now 🙂
Hey Tom if the bubbles started cranking then I’d guess that the yeast finished digesting all the sugar. If you don’t put in enough yeast it will delay the ramp up of bubbles but once started it should continue. More yeast gives more rapid onset of bubbles and faster fermentation. Maybe you got fast acting yeast and warm temps.
Pressurization should take a day or few but really you need trial and error. If not enough bubbles you need either more sugar or more time. The yeast is working on the extra sugar you’ve added during this stage. Since the vessel is sealed the gas gets trapped.
Thanks Joe, I’ll leave this one in the fridge and fire up another couple of bottles and see how I go. Will report back with results.
I tried some of the first bottle, it’s still pretty yeasty – not sure if it’s going to improve leaving it in the fridge longer but will give it a fe more days. Noticed the bottom of the bottle, is it normal to have that on the bottom? https://i.imgur.com/vFn4hZl.jpg
Yep it’s normal. A lot of it comes out in the fermentation vessel. The rest will settle in the pressurization vessel. Wait longer for better taste.
The sediment is just dead yeast. The longer you leave it sitting, the more yeast will fall out and the clearer your cider will be.
Pissed off with my adult kids posting dumb-shit things on social media, so after a few very large glasses of my home made Mead down my throat, I stumbled upon this page as i’m also interested in home brewed Cider!
The no bull-shit approach to home brewing of ‘outbackjoe’, is top class so i’ll have a crack at Joe’s easy to follow cider recipe when I recover, provided I remember writing any of this!
Hi Joe, Thanks for your (now classic) post, came across it years ago but only just recalled it and had to have a crack. Just finished bottling 6l into second stage, fermentation only seemed to take 3 days for bubbling to die down so not sure about that but it its not off and just tastes like dry wine. Reminds me of the fermentation smell I used to get in the air working the winery vintages. Fingers crossed for some fizz and we’re ready to go! All the best mate.
Hi Joe. Just came across this now and keen to get to the shops for some apple juice now! Just wondering if you could use carbonation drops from the brew shop instead of the sugar? Thanks
Hey Lisa yeah the carbonation drops are just sugar. They’ll do the job.
Thanks Joe. Home brew shop told me I would get less carbonation with the drops than with sugar so still deciding which one to go with lol
You should be able to make it as carbonated as you want by adjusting the amount of sugar / carbonation drops.
tastes goo-ood. and I am well away after 3 decent sized glasses in a robust and bucolic manner. ta.
My Grandad drank nothing but cider until he was eighty. He gathered apples didn’t wash them,crushed with a horse driven cider mill,just washed with water. The apple pulp was spread on horse hairs again stored from previous years and pressed the juice being of tee couloir . The juice was transferred to the barrels where it was left to ferment without any added yeast. When the initial fermentation slowed down the cork was put in place bag.covering it. Some time later the barrel was filled up with water from the pond and later the cork was driven home.inever remember a barrel being rejected
Ha that is great. Wish I had the skills to make cider like that. Doing shit yourself the old way is fun and satisfying and good for the environment and good for your wallet. In fact it’s superior in nearly every way. Thanks for sharing!
I have experimented and with a two litre bottle I got 8 ×375 mls bottles by discarding the sugar and filling each bottle to the top with extra fresh apple juice then capping the bottles using screw caps into cleaned used beer bottles result was good tasting but a bit gassy
If I buy beer I look for screw caps and straight after I finish a beer bottle is cleaned thourouly then after completely dry put the cap back on into the same box for a home made brew 😊
Dad and brother started brewing cider recently; bought all the fancy yeast and equipment. They have been amazed by how well my ciders have gone just using this tutorial; no expensive equipment needed. Thanks, you’re a legend.
Nice work yeah no fancy stuff needed for delicious cider.
wondering what your thoughts are about adding honey as a carbonator .
Hey Tanya I’ve never worked with honey but I reckon it should do the job, mead is made by fermenting honey.