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.)
How Is Cider Made
Much like making beer or wine, there is a set process with 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 preference 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 for 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, rubber stopper with a hole, “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 home brew 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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