Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hard Cider

We have friends who are really, heavily into the brewing hobby. They make beer, hard cider, mead, you name it - and most of it is pretty darn good. Since they enjoy it so much and my husband is a fan of hard cider, we decided (with consultation) to give it a try.

We started by ordering the deluxe beer brewing kit from Northern Brewer, specifying the glass carboys (we had been advised that the glass carboys were better than the plastic carboys as a general rule of thumb, so we decided it was worth the slight price difference). I also stopped at the Homebrew Emporium in North Greenbush for some incidentals - yeast, additives, stuff like that.

So, making hard cider is - well, pretty darn easy! The starter kit gives you just about everything you need at first - a bucket, two carboys, all sorts of siphons, bottle caps, sanitizer, etc. as well as directions on how to use everything. The directions are geared more toward beer, but they can be easily adapted for cider.

The day before "cider day" we took a trip to Indian Ladder Farms, to pick up six gallons of cider. You want to stay away from the chemically pasteurized cider, but their cider is UV pasteurized so it's OK to use. An employee at Homebrew told me that you can request unpasteurized cider from Goold orchard as well but I haven't tried that yet. I also had two things of yeast - a dry premium wine yeast and a wet cider yeast - and some pectic enzyme to help with cider clarity.

We did two batches - five gallons went into the six gallon carboy with the dry yeast, and nothing else. The last gallon went into a separate jug with 100 mL of pure Canadian maple syrup (bought during a recent trip to Niagara) and the cider yeast. After two weeks of fermentation, we "racked" them - basically transferred them to new, clean carboys and got rid of the dead  yeast at the bottom of the containers - and let it sit for another week, and then we were good to bottle! I did backsweeten the cider with some wine conditioner (an insoluble sugar that will sweeten the cider without triggering additional fermentation) and we ended up with two cases plus of cider - the regular cider was 6% alcohol and the maple cider, due to the additional sugar content, was 7%.

It turned out pretty darn good - and naturally gluten free!

During cider season, I'm planning a couple more batches - with additional fruit, cinnamon and mulling spices - before trying my hand at vino. I'm excited!


New Yorker No More said...

this sounds great Kat! When Paul and I are both in NY we should get some ideas from you guys about how to do this!

Anonymous said...

Thats look so great! Thank you!

If you need some storage solution one day, just let me know.

art fan said...

I will try it when i will go back in my house in Vermont. Thanks !
Now that i have a bottle washer, i will make a lot of beer/hard cider/ "poiré". (But,i will still respect the laws ;) )

Marc, QC