Homemade Hard Cider

October 9, 2010

I’ve been wanting to make my own cider since last year…and finally the sight of Mercier Orchards’ cider in Whole Foods told me it was time.
Right now it’s in the second stage of its fermentation – it’s currently day 13 of a 3 week period before it is once again siphoned, and eventually bottled with sugar added to make it sparkling. I hope for it to be ready to drink by late December or early January.

It’s a ridiculously simple process, and for the supplies I highly recommend you check out Wine Craft of Atlanta on Roswell Road (in the shopping center with Chipotle, Bishoku, and Chef Rob’s Caribbean Cafe, but towards the back) to get everything you need in one go. For $41, you can get an entire 1 gallon winemaking kit, which is exactly what you need for the cider. It comes with a book to make all sorts of wines, along with the cider itself. Everything you need is included: bucket, airlock, siphon, carboy, cleaning supplies, yeast, etc. The only thing you may want to pick up is another carboy, and bottling supplies. My method is going to be reusing old beer bottles and just picking up some new caps and a hand capper. The kit also has a straining bag in case you are using some sort of fruit that needs to be squeezed out like berries.
The owners of the shop are extremely knowledgeable and can answer any questions you have.

The best part about the recipe in the booklet with the kit is that it prefers a cold method for the yeast. The first step was simply to clean out the bucket, add the cider, sugar, and a crushed campden tablet, and wait one day before adding in the yeast. No heating of the cider required.

If you choose to make cider, beware what you choose – do not just pick up a gallon of pasteurized cider. After researching, I found it would be okay to use Mercier’s flash pasteurized cider without ill effect, so that is an option, and you can pick up a gallon right now in local Whole Foods stores for $5 without having to visit the orchard itself. You can also pick up cider from a farmers market or any other orchard, be sure to check if it is pasteurized. The best choice would be unpasteurized but as long as a cider has not been heated in a traditional pasteurization, you’re good to go.