Along with craft beer, drinking hard cider has increased in popularity over the past 5 to 10 years. For many, hard cider is a nice alternative to beer, wine, or spirits. It’s generally lower in alcohol, lighter, and more refreshing. Home cider making kits make it possible to recreate these flavors at home.
While making hard cider isn’t new, records indicate the process of fermenting apple juice into an alcoholic drink dates back to 3000 BCE, cider making at home is a relatively new experience. In this post, we share our tips on how to choose the best cider making kit so you can learn to make cider at home.
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The Best Cider Making Kits
We include detailed cider making kit reviews below, but if you are short on time, feel free to use the table below to see our best picks. We recommend using Amazon for making your purchase.
First, we find Amazon to have the best at-home cider making kits in terms of price and quality. Second, we try to recommend products that are part of Amazon Prime, which provides purchasers with free and often super-fast delivery. (Get 30 days of Prime free here.)
Best Hard Cider Making Kits
From one of the leaders in home brewing, the BrewDemon Hard Cider Kit Plus by Demon Brewing Company features all you’ll need to make refreshing cider at home.
The kit includes a patented two-gallon conical fermenter, a New Zealand-style cider recipe, and eight plastic bottles with lids. From start to finish, the cider making process with the BrewDemon Hard Cider Kit takes only 14 days. The fermenter features a large mouth opening for easy filling. Its filling spigot prevents bottles from overflowing doing the filling process.
All vital parts are made from food-grade plastic which is Phthalate and BPA-free. This prevents any unwanted flavors from leaching into the hard cider.
You supply the juice and Craft a Brew will provide everything else you need to make delicious hard cider at home. Included inside their Craft A Brew Hard Cider Brew Kit you’ll find a glass carboy jug, funnel, transfer tubing, and other essential tools and ingredients.
Their guide to making hard cider walks you through the cider-making process including how to make still or sparkling cider. Each kit contains enough ingredients to make three batches.
If you really want to take your home cider making skill up a notch, then the BrewDemon Hard Cider Kit Pro by Demon Brewing Company is the kit for you. Similar in all regards to the BrewDemon Hard Cider Kit Plus, the Pro version includes an additional recipe for blueberry cider as well as an airlock, rubber stoppers, and gasket.
Brooklyn Brew Shop Hard Cider Making Kit is packed with all the necessary equipment to make three batches of tasty cider. All you need to provide is the juice. Following the easy-to-use videos and instructions, you’ll have cider in approximately two weeks.
The kit comes with a one-gallon reusable glass fermenter, yeast, and measuring equipment. Brooklyn Brew Shop is one of the most recognized names in homebrewing and stands fully behind its kits.
How Is Cider Made
Much like making beer or wine, there is a set process of how to make cider. This process dates back thousands of years. Who actually “invented” hard cider is open to interpretation. Before the Romans brought apple farmers to England, the indigenous Celts were involved with apple cider brewing.
Some scholars cite the Greeks or other ancient civilizations. Regardless of who invented hard cider, cider brewing continues to be an important part of many modern cultures.
While a hard cider recipe might change from producer to producer, the process for cider brewing is the same. Cider producers have their own preferences for the types of apples they use. Producers will also use their own preferred yeast for the fermentation process. As far as the steps for how to make hard apple cider that is a constant.
In case you are wondering, it takes a lot of apples to make hard cider. 20 lbs of apples to be “exact.” From these 20 lbs, approximately one gallon of apple juice is retrieved. If you don’t have access to apples or don’t want to crush 20 lbs of them, using store-bought fresh-squeezed juice with no preservatives is a good alternative.
Ned Flanders of the Simpsons famously said, “If it’s clear and yella, you’ve got juice there, fella; if it’s tangy and brown, you’re in Cider Town! Well, if you don’t add the yeast, you’re still in Cider Town. Adding yeast to apple juice begins the fermentation process. The yeast eats the natural sugars in the apple juice, transforming ordinary apple cider into an adult beverage. This process can take upwards of three weeks.
After the yeast has finished feasting on the natural sugars, it and the juice need to rest. This waiting period allows the cider to age. This aging period is dependent on the desired flavors of the hard cider producer. The longer the wait, the more robust the flavors.
To Refine Or Not To Refine
Once the desired flavor is achieved it’s time to refine or not to refine the cider. Refining is simply the process of clarifying the liquid using a fining agent. Used also in winemaking, the fining agent helps remove any unwanted particles from the cider. For cider purists, this step is skipped.
Last but not least is the bottling process. Here again, cider producers have a choice. By adding a priming agent to the cider and then bottling, a sparkling cider will be produced. The priming agent helps carbonation to develop inside the bottle. Without the priming agent, you’ll get a still cider.
How To Make Hard Cider At Home
Other than the quantity or perhaps quality, you can produce, there’s not much difference in the process of home cider making versus on a commercial scale. Now, I’m sure this is going to get us in a lot of trouble.
But, home brew cider making follows the same steps from sourcing the apple juice, to adding yeast, to fermentation, and finally bottling as professional cider making.
Making hard cider at home requires a fair amount of equipment. Most equipment can be sourced in hardware and supermarkets or on sites like Amazon.
The main pieces of equipment and ingredients you’ll need include fresh-pressed, preservative-free apple juice, 1 gallon or larger glass jug, a rubber stopper with a hole, a “bubbler” and of course yeast. But not just any yeast. Brewer’s yeast, not baking yeast.
An alternative to purchasing these ingredients and equipment individually is to purchase a homebrew cider kit.
Why Use a Hard Cider Brewing Kit At Home
If you have ever wanted to make your own cider, picking up a cider making kit is the way to go. These kits take the guesswork out of how to make cider. A good cider kit includes all the equipment and ingredients, excluding apple juice, you’ll need to brew your own batch.
Kits also include detailed instructions, either in written or video form, on how to make cider. The alternative to not using a cider making kit is to independently source equipment and ingredients and research how to make cider. The at home cider making kit is much more convenient.
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FAQs – Best Cider Making Kit
There are a few different factors that play into how long it will take to make cider. Room temperature, which affects fermentation is one of the most important. Ideally, you want a slower, longer fermentation to produce a more full-flavored cider. At the right room temperature, it will take between 10-14 days to make the cider.
Yes, you can make cider from apple juice. Unless you own an orchard and can harvest apples, you are most likely going to use store-bought apple juice as your cider base. Typically one gallon of juice will be enough to get your batch going. Additionally, you’ll need yeast to begin the fermentation process.
It’s is possible to use bread yeast to make cider. The cider will turn out fine but for better quality cider it is recommended to use winemaking yeast. The yeast used to make wine has a higher tolerance for alcohol hence why it’s the preferred yeast. Additionally, beer yeast can be used as well.
The fermentation process involved with cider making depends on the amount of sugar involved. Once the sugar has been completely consumed by the cultivating yeast, the fermentation process stops. As a result, it’s difficult to ferment for “too long”.