How to Make Sparkling Hard Apple Cider from Apple Juice

by Kaitlynn Fenley

It’s easy to ferment sparkling hard cider from apple juice. Learn how to make hard apple cider from just apple juice, sugar and yeast.

How to Make Hard Apple Cider

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!

Here is my Amazon list for brewing supplies. If you have a local home brew store, that is also an option to get what you need. I got all of my supplies at my local homebrew store up the street from my house. At a homebrew store, you can have someone help you pick out the right supplies.

How to Make Hard Cider from Apple Juice

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. The juice must be 100% apple juice and free from any preservatives and additives. Also, make sure the juice does not have any added sugar.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Can You Use Apple Juice Concentrate for Hard Cider?

Yes, you can use apple juice concentrate to make cider, but it needs to be 100% pure apple juice, with no other added ingredients. It cannot have preservatives or added sugars. You will also need to reconstitute it according to the directions, and then boil it before using it in the recipe.

You can also use fresh pressed apple juice, but if you do you need to boil it or pasteurize it before using it.

Choosing Yeast for Sparkling Hard Cider

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. When buying packaged yeast, I like to make sure that the yeast species is not genetically modified. 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.

yeast floating on top of sugar water in a glass jug. The yeast are the main ingredient to make sparkling hard cider.

The Benefits of Hard Apple Cider

Everyone knows that apples are a “superfood” loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals. Well, fermentation can make all the benefits of apples more bioavailable. When homemade with just apple juice, organic sugar, and yeast hard apple cider is a relatively healthy alcoholic beverage. Hard apple cider contains a lot of bioavailable vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. Plus, it’s gluten-free!

How to Bottle and Store Hard Apple 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. I like to use honey as priming sugar. 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 sugar.

You’ll need:

  • Two 1-Liter Swing top bottles(Carbonation Safe)
  • Organic Honey

How to Bottle

  1. Clean and sterilize the bottles.
  2. Add one tablespoon of honey to each 1 Liter bottle.
  3. Using a funnel, transfer the cider from the aging jug into the carbonation-safe bale top bottles, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the jug.
  4. Cap the bottles and invert gently twice to mix the honey with the cider.
  5. Allow to ferment at room temperature for five to seven days, then immediately place in the fridge. You can age the cider for 3 more weeks in the fridge before enjoying it chilled.
Hard apple cider bubbling in a half gallon glass jug.

More Fall Ferments to Try

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Sparkling Hard Cider from Apple Juice

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

Ingredients

Scale
  • 64 fl oz organic apple juice
  • 75 grams organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon chips (optional)
  • 1 small clove (optional)
  • 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 it to fully air dry.
  2. Once your equipment is prepped, add 1 cup of boiling water to the 1/2 gallon jug.
  3. Add the brown sugar to the jug and swirl it around to dissolve. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  4. Add in the cider yeast and mix gently by swirling. Wait about 30 minutes for the yeast to get frothy and active.
  5. Carefully using a funnel, add the pasteurized apple juice to the jug leaving two inches of headspace (see pictures above)
  6. Add the cinnamon and clove (optional)
  7. Cap the jug and swirl it around for about a minute.
  8. Remove the cap and place the airlock and stopper in the jug (see pictures above).
  9. After a few hours, you should notice bubbling in the cider and activity in the airlock.
  10. Allow the cider to ferment for 14 to 21 days until the bubbling has completely stopped and you no longer see activity in the airlock. At this point you should see sediment in the bottom of the jug.
  11. Remove the airlock and using a funnel, transfer the cider to a new, clean jug for aging. Be careful pouring, pour gently, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the original jug.
  12. Allow the cider to age at a cool room temperature or in the fridge in the fresh jug for four weeks. You can use the airlock stopper to seal the jug again or a regular cap.
  13. To Bottle the cider with honey: Clean and sterilize two 1-liter carbonation-safe bottles. Add one tablespoon of honey to each 1 Liter bottle. Using a funnel, transfer the cider from the aging jug into the carbonation-safe bottles, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the jug. Cap the bottles and invert gently twice to mix the honey with the cider.
  14. Allow to ferment in the bottles at a cool room temperature for five days, then immediately store in the fridge. (check the carbonation by carefully opening a bottle over the sink, if it is not carbonated enough you can leave it at room temperature for seven days.)
  15. You can age the cider for 3 more weeks in the fridge before enjoying it chilled. Keep refrigerated.

Notes

  • Use a 1/2 gallon jug for this recipe (unless you are doubling the recipe)

Keywords: cider, apple, alcohol, hard cider

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Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

13 comments

Michael October 13, 2022 - 10:02 pm

What ABV will this produce? And will it be shelf stable at room temp after being refrigerated for 3 weeks in bottles?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley October 14, 2022 - 8:48 am

It should be 6 to 7%

It is not pasteurized like shelf-stable cider at the store and contains live microbes so it needs to be stored in the fridge.

Reply
Tiffany October 19, 2022 - 12:40 pm

Can you make this with fresh cider as well?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley October 19, 2022 - 12:47 pm

As in fresh pressed juice? yes, but you need to heat it to pasteurize it first.

Reply
Danette October 19, 2022 - 7:40 pm

I’m stoked to make this with our own apples! Can this store in the fridge longer than 3 weeks? Trying to gauge how much to make at a time. Thanks!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley October 20, 2022 - 8:25 am

oh yes! it keeps in the fridge for a long time. I just like to “age it” in the fridge for three weeks before I start drinking it.

Reply
Kathryn October 20, 2022 - 9:29 am

okay, this isn’t done yet, but I’m going to go ahead and give it 5 stars because I can tell it’s going to be great. I started it 14 days ago, and I just finished racking the cider for the first time, and now I have four weeks to wait before I bottle it. I want to just go ahead and bottle it, but I’ve also read elsewhere that the more it is aged the better it tastes, so I’ll just have to wait. it should be ready in 7 weeks!

Reply
Christine October 27, 2022 - 6:42 pm

I only have a gallon carboy as a gift, can I use this recipe or should I double it to fit the gallon?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley October 28, 2022 - 7:31 am

you should double the recipe, so there isn’t too much headspace in the jug.

Reply
Alex November 13, 2022 - 6:39 am

I can’t wait to try this but just wondering if you can skip the aging process and just go straight to bottling the cider with the honey?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley November 14, 2022 - 8:22 am

I think you can try it, but it won’t taste as good without the aging step.

Reply
Laurence S November 14, 2022 - 11:20 am

I’ve been fermenting my cider for 22 days now, there is still tons of activity in the airlock. Is this normal? Should I let it completely die down before rebottling it for aging? Thanks 🙂

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley November 14, 2022 - 2:25 pm

Yes, it’s normal, especially if you used fresh/in-season apple juice. You can go ahead and rack it, then just put the airlock back on the jug.

Reply