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How to Make Hard Apple Cider at Home

how to ferment apples into alcohol

Do you have left over apples, or juice you could not preserve properly? You can easily turn them into hard apple cider or apple wine at home. You’ll just need sugar and yeast.

Fermenting apples into alcohol is an old, traditional process that involves letting the fruit sit and become infused with yeast. You’ll be surprised to see how easy it is to make apple cider at home! Let’s get started.

What turns Apple Juice into Alcohol?

Making hard apple cider

Yeasts present into the juice will eat the natural sugar from the juice and release alcohol, carbon dioxide and natural acids. The carbon dioxide bubbles make the liquid fizzy while the natural acids produced by the fermentation cause the juice to turn brown or cloudy. But where does the yeast come from?

Like other fruits and grains, apples have natural yeasts present on their skins. Some of these yeasts would naturally make their way to the juice during the juicing process. The problem with this technique is that their is no control over the kind of yeast present in the juice.

Natural acids produced by the yeasts during fermentation kill some bacteria. But not all harmful bacteria can be killed this way. Also, if the acidity does not rise quick enough, due to the lack of yeast, harmful bacteria might have the time to grow.

This is why it to obtained a good fermentation, so to reliably make hard apple cider at home, it is best to add some yeast. If you want, you can also add sugar to increase the fermentation speed, which will prevent the development of harmful bacteria.

With or without seeds?

Unlike beer, wine, and other fermented alcoholic drinks, the first step of making apple juice ferment is to remove the seeds. The tannins they contain can cause the juice to turn brown or cloudy if they are left during the fermentation.

The seeds can be removed from the apple juice before fermentation begins a few different ways. But at home the easiest is to use a juicer or blender to grate the apples and then strain out the seeds.

You can also soak the apples in an acid such as lemon juice mixed with water overnight before straining out the seeds. It will prevent sliced apples from turning brown.

What You’ll Need to Make Apple Cider at home

How to ferment apples into alcohol when you want to make hard apple cider yourself? It’s not complicated, you’ll need the following:

  • Apples, of course! Fifteen apples for every 1 gallon of cider you want to make. So, if you’re going to make 5 gallons, you can use 75 apples.
  • Sugar: You’ll need 1 cup of sugar per gallon of cider you make.
  • Yeast: You’ll need half a packet of yeast per gallon of cider that you make.
  • Juice extractor: You can use a juicer, citrus squeezer, or another piece of equipment to extract juice from apples and other fruits.
  • Containers: You’ll need at least one 32-ounce glass jar for each gallon of cider that you make.

Step 1: Selecting the Apples

The apples you use will affect the flavor of your apple cider and the alcohol content significantly. Some varieties that work very well in these drinks include Spartan, Cortland, or MacIntosh.

You can use a cider apple variety to make a harder or drier cider or wine. If you are trying to make a sweeter apple cider or wine, use a sweet cider apple variety.

Remember that the riper your apples are, the sweeter they will be. So if you want your apple cider to be very sweet, choose ripe apples.

Step 2: Shredding the Apples

The apples you use to make your apple cider should be shredded so the yeast can quickly get into them.

You can use a food processor, a simple blender, or a juicer to shred the apples. If you choose to use a juicer, cut the apples into chunks before putting them through the juicer. If you don’t slice the apples, your cider may not ferment properly.

Step 3: Adding Sugar and Yeast

Once you’ve shredded the apples, you can add the yeast and sugar to the mixture. Stir until the sugar and yeast are mixed in well.

You can use regular table sugar to make apple cider. Still, if you want a drier and more alcoholic cider, you should use brown sugar.

Put the mixture into a glass container, and don’t seal it. Let it sit at room temperature and be stirred regularly for about a week.

After a few days, you should notice bubbling and an increase in the fizziness of the container. This means that alcohol is being produced. When the bubbling has stopped, put the container in the fridge. Low temperatures prevent yeast from growing.

Step 4: Bottling the Cider and Finishing Steps

Once the bubbling has stopped, seal the jar and put it in the fridge. This will slow down the fermentation process and allow you to drink the cider later.

You can drink the cider as soon as it’s ready, but many people prefer to let it ferment longer to give it a more pungent taste. If you want to make apple wine, you can use the same method and add additional ingredients to your cider.

Add some raisins or chopped apples to each gallon of cider you make. This will add more flavor to your cider and ferment it into wine. You can use other fruits and herbs to make different varieties of wine.

How To Ferment Apples Into Alcohol If You Want To Make Apple Wine at Home?

Can you make apple wine from pasteurized apple juice? Pasteurization of apple juice is done to kill off harmful bacteria that cause product spoilage. This process heats the liquid to temperatures high enough to kill any microorganisms that might be present.

However, pasteurization does not destroy all of raw apple juice’s nutrients or flavor compounds. So it’s possible to use pasteurized apple juice for making wine.

In addition, some winemakers believe that pasteurized apple juice doesn’t provide enough flavor, so they add additional flavors and sweeteners to the wine.

If you plan to make apple wine from pasteurized apple juice, you’ll need to start with a fresh batch of unheated (raw) apple juice and then add winemaking ingredients one at a time.

Once you’ve added all the ingredients, you can heat the batch to mash-in temperature (the temperature at which yeast begins to ferment). This will extract additional flavor compounds from the raw apples and produce more flavorful wine.

Apples to be turned into cider

Pasteurized apple juice is a convenient option for making dry wine. It is less expensive than starting with fresh pressed juice because it already contains the appropriate amount of sugar and acidity.

However, pasteurization can affect the flavor and texture of apple juice, so you should use it sparingly. You can use any variety of apples to make apple wine from pasteurized juice.

In addition to apples, you can also make wine from other fruits:

  • grapes,
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • strawberries
  • plums

All work well if you remove the seeds (if any) before pressing them for juice or pureeing for jam or jelly. These fruits are not as forgiving as apples.

However, you can still get decent results if you do proper research, follow directions carefully and pay attention to details like fermentation time and heating temperature.

Final Tips On How To Make Hard Apple Cider at Home

If you want to make a more potent alcoholic cider, you can let it ferment for longer. Just remember to stir it daily.

It will be most suitable to use a large container for fermentation, like a bucket or a large glass jug. Make sure that you clean all of your equipment thoroughly.

Any bacteria or dirt that remains on the equipment can ruin your cider and cause it to ferment poorly or not at all. Remember that fermentation is a natural process, so don’t worry if everything doesn’t go according to plan. 

If the cider or alcohol doesn’t taste right, try again with a new batch until you get the taste you want. The process of fermenting apples into alcohol is relatively easy, especially when you try it several times.

It takes some time, but you can do it in the comfort of your own home. The finished product is tasty and perfect for gift-giving during the holidays!

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