How to Brew Fermented Hard Apple Cider

by Kaitlynn Fenley

This is a super simple recipe for DIY hard apple cider. You just need a few pieces of equipment, apple juice, yeast, and spices! This recipe comes together in just 15 minutes and ferments for three weeks before aging and bottling.

Supplies For Cider Fermentation

I know it’s tempting to shop on Amazon, but I highly suggest doing some research and seeing if your town has any local home-brew shops! Jon and I just discovered our local home-brew store. It was much easier to get what I needed. Plus, it was nice to have an experienced brewer there to help me pick out the right supplies.

  • 1/2 gallon glass jug (with a cap)
  • a second 1/2 gallon glass jug (with cap)
  • 1 rubber stopper with an airlock
  • a funnel
  • a small pot to heat apple juice
  • cheap vodka (for cleaning equipment)
  • Two 1-Liter swing-top bottles, also known as Grolsch style bottles (Carbonation safe, for bottling the cider)

Ingredients For Cider Fermentation

I think brewing at home intimidates a lot of people, so I made this recipe as easy as possible. So no, you don’t have to go pick and freshly juice your own organic apples in order to make cider. I would absolutely do this if I had my own apple tree, but I don’t. With this recipe, you can just buy some organic apple juice at the store. I used the 365 brand of organic pressed apple juice from Whole Foods. It’s an unfiltered juice not from concentrate.

I highly suggest buying organic, preservative-free juice for this recipe.

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 2 Grams Cider Yeast (Saccharomyces bayanus)
  • 64 Fluid Ounces Organic Apple Juice
  • Organic Brown Sugar or Organic Cane Sugar
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Cloves
  • Allspice

The Microbes Involved in Cider Fermentation

You can use champagne yeast or cider yeast for this recipe. If you visit a home-brew store, they should be able to help you select a cider yeast. We chose to use Saccharomyces bayanus. This yeast species is found in association with the natural fermentation of grapes, and it’s great for cider fermentation.

How to Make Hard Apple Cider at Home

If this is your first time making cider at home, I highly suggest starting with this half gallon recipe. This way you can get acquainted with the process and taste test before committing to a large batch. I plan on making a five-gallon batch before Christmas to give to friends and family!

Easy Recipe For Hard Apple Cider

I made this recipe easy and accessible. If you want to juice your own apples that’s great, otherwise just get some organic apple juice from the store. I think pressed apple juice not from concentrate works best. After sauerkraut, I think this was one of the easiest fermentation recipes I’ve ever tested. The only thing I found difficult was pouring the hot apple juice into the bottle through a funnel. Tip: Put the bottle with the funnel in the sink and pour it over the sink. I somehow managed to pour it in on top of our photography set up without spilling.

a clear half gallon jug being filled with apple juice to brew fermented hard apple cider

How to Bottle and Store Hard Cider

Bottling and storing the cider is pretty easy, you just need to verify that you have carbonation safe bottles. This is a sparkling hard cider, so we are going to carbonate it. To carbonate hard cider in the bottle, we have to add a small amount of sugar, called priming sugar, right before bottling. The yeast will feed on the freshly added sugar and produce more carbon dioxide. Since the cider is in carbonation safe bottles with the cap secure, the CO2 is forced into the cider and it becomes carbonated.

To make this a still cider instead of sparkling cider, simply do not add any honey or maple syrup.

You’ll need:

  • Two 1-Liter Swing top bottles, also known as Grolsch style bottles (Carbonation Safe)
  • Honey or Maple Syrup

How to Bottle

  1. Clean and sterilize the bottles.
  2. Add two teaspoons of maple syrup or honey to each 1 Liter bottle.
  3. Using a funnel, transfer the cider from the aging jug into the carbonation safe bale top bottles.
  4. Cap the bottles and invert gently twice to mix the sugar with the cider.
  5. Allow to ferment at room temperature for seven days, then immediately place in the fridge.
  6. Chill in the fridge for 48 hours before enjoying.

How to Make a Warm Apple Cider Holiday Drink

The best thing to do with hard apple cider is to make a classic warm apple cider holiday beverage. Think like sangria but with cider. I usually warm the cider then add in fresh apple slices, a couple of orange slices, and mulling spices. You can source the mulling spices individually or you can buy a mixed mulling spice blend. Stay tuned for a recipe blog for our warm apple cider holiday drink!

More Fermented Drinks to Try

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How to Brew Fermented Hard Apple Cider

This is a super simple recipe for DIY hard apple cider. You just need a few pieces of equipment, apple juice, yeast, and spices! This recipe comes together in just 15 minutes and ferments for about three weeks before aging and bottling.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 Gallon 1x
  • Category: Beverages
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 64 fl oz organic apple juice
  • 75 grams organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon chips (or 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 5 small cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 2 grams cider yeast

Instructions

  1. Clean and sanitize all of your equipment. I like to wash the jug with soap and water, allow it to air dry a bit, then rinse the jug with cheap vodka, and allow to fully air dry. 
  2. Once your equipment is prepped, warm up 2 cups of apple juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  3. Once it’s warm (not boiling) add in the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. Carefully using a funnel, add the warm apple juice mixture to the jug. 
  5. Add the spices to the jug and let them steep for 5 minutes. 
  6. Pour the rest of the apple juice into the jug, leaving two inches of headspace (see pictures above). 
  7. Add the yeast to the jug. 
  8. Cap the jug and shake for about a minute. 
  9. Remove the cap and place the airlock and stopper in the jug (see pictures above).
  10. After a few hours, you should notice bubbling in the cider and activity in the airlock.
  11. Allow the cider to ferment for 14 to 21 days until the bubbling has completely stopped.
  12. Remove the airlock and using a funnel, transfer the cider to a new, clean jug for aging. Be careful pouring, and try to pour gently, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the original jug. 
  13. Allow the cider to age at room temperature for four weeks. 
  14. Bottle the cider by following the bottling directions above this recipe.
  15. Age in bottles for about 3 weeks in the fridge.

Notes

  • Use a 1/2 gallon jug for this recipe (unless you are doubling the recipe)
  • To bottle see the directions listed above this recipe

Keywords: cider, apple, alcohol, hard cider

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