John and Cammy’s Simple Hard Cider

Apple juice wants to ferment. Although there are many books, websites and conferences devoted to hard cider, the process is quite simple.

Any apples will do. Our best ciders come from a mix of different apples. We combine wild seedling apples, small and somewhat bitter, with sweet low-acid apples like Tolman Sweet or Pound Sweet, and bittersweets like Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, or other cider varieties.

A bushel of apples will yield about 3.5 gallons of juice. You can buy, borrow or build a cider press. You could also buy fresh cider from a local orchard in the fall.Pour juice into a clean container, such as a glass gallon jug, a 5-gallon carboy, or a 50-gallon wooden whiskey or wine barrel. We clean our fermentation vessel with potassium metabisulfite, available at beer- or wine-supply stores.

Some cidermakers add yeast. Others add raisins, brown sugar, various fruits or even a piece of steak. Our cider is just juice. The natural yeasts on the farm are enough to make great cider.

Seal the vessel with an airlock. When the airlock stops bubbling, the fermentation is done. This takes several months in the cool basement where we ferment our cider.

Time to drink the cider or bottle it. We like to bottle ours and wait another few months because it keeps getting better. Sometimes we add ¾ tsp sugar to each bottle to make the cider fizzy. Twist-top wine bottles or flip-top bottles are easy because you don’t need to purchase bottle caps or corks. Enjoy!