Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hard Cider

A cold SCD legal beverage that's not wine and fills the void of beer? Yes, please!

For over 4 years I never really thought about trying hard cider and instead drank wine and dreamed about one day drinking beer again. Then, one day I saw an article about artisan hard cider breweries in a magazine and was inspired to look further into seeing if the stuff was SCD legal. I looked up the info Here:
Next, after seeing that legal cider could be found, I went on the task of finding it. I first went to the local big grocery store and came home empty handed. The store only had one variety of hard cider and it was StrongBow, which had dextrose and other illegal ingredients. What now, give up? No way! I then went to a small natural foods/health food store and was happy to find these varieties of SCD legal hard ciders. The varieties I found are located here with links for pictures, contact info, etc: J.K.'s Scrupy, Tieton Cider Works, Wyder's, Crispin Cider, and Fox Barrel Cider. Now, I cannot fully verify all of the cider company's ingredients beyond their labels but I did email Tieton because they had no ingredients labeled and they confirmed that there was no added sugars, sorbates, etc. just apple cider and yeast. Also, you need to always read the labels as some varieties contain added sugar, while another variety under the same brand does not. Always check!
I have found that my gut has reacted very favorably to all of the ciders, and I find that I have less negative feelings with cider, as compared with dry wine.

Now on the negative side, the above ciders are costly, with the average twelve ounce bottle costing over two dollars. This is why I ended up trying to brew my own hard cider with varying degrees of success. To this date I have brewed four ciders of different composition and ingredients. The first was a straight cider with nothing added. This turned out pretty bad and was given away. The next one was with the same juice but with 16oz of honey added to the fermentation (recipe below).  The other two were experiments using apple juice concentrate and another using less honey (12oz).  I will report back on these varieties once they are ready to try.
The second cider I made using 16oz of honey turned out very good, almost an apple wine due to the high alcohol content. The below recipe for this honey cider is below.

The basics of homemade hard cider:  *Great hard cider resources at:
-at least 2 one gallon glass jugs (Carlo Rossi wine jugs work well as does glass gallon jugs of apple juice)
-1 package champagne yeast or ale yeast
-1 gallon apple cider with no additives or preservatives (local source, whole foods brand, Knudsen, etc.)
-honey to increase fermentation and for carbonation at bottling time
-about 4 feet of clear plastic tubing for siphoning the cider
-1 airlock and plastic cork with hole for airlock
-1 bottle filling wand 

-Sterilize all of your equipment with a sterilizing solution from a brew store or bleach if needed last resort.  This includes:  Gallon jug to ferment, airlock, plastic stopper, plastic tubing, and any mixing tools like spoons.
-Bring one gallon of the preservative free and pasteurized cider to room temp about 70 degrees. (if not pasteurized, most recommend lightly heating for 40 minutes or so to kill wild bacteria.  Do not boil!)
-Lightly heat a cup or two of the cider with 16 oz honey then add into the gallon fermenting jug along with rest of cider.
-Add half of your yeast packet to a cup filled with a 1/4 cup luke warm water.  Let stand 15 minutes then stir yeast to fully incorporate. Next, add the yeast slurry to your cider that is in the fermenting jug and give a light shake to dissolve and add some oxygen to the mix.
-Attach the cork and airlock, then fill the airlock with water to the appropriate manufactures line.
-Now place your gallon jug of goodness in a dark, warm (60-70 F) place that has fairly consistent temperature with little fluctuations (I place mine in a laundry room that has its own door).
-Within 24 hours your airlock should start bubbling and there should be visible bubbles within the jug.  This is the yeast eating the available sugar and converting it to alcohol.    
-I then usually wait about 2 weeks for the fermentation to die down then I transfer via the plastic hose the cider from one jug to another sanitized jug, leaving behind all of the dead yeast and sediment that settles on the bottom.  From here ferment the cider for another 3 weeks until you see very few, to no bubbles rising within the jug.

Bottling time!
-Add 1/8 cup of honey, mixed with a cup or two of warm cider,  to a new, clean, sanitized gallon jug, then siphon the juice into this container to get the cider of of the sediment again, and mix in the priming honey.
-After the cider is mixed with the priming honey in the new jug, use your bottling wand and plastic hose to transfer the cider to bottles then cap the bottles.
-Move the bottles to a cool, dark place and let them sit for at least two weeks before trying.  Try the ciders again after about a month to make sure there is not to much carbonation happening, and if there is put all the cider in the fridge and leave it there until you drink it.



  1. When you add 16oz of honey for the initial fermentation process, you will also need to remove 16oz of cider to make room, right? Same goes for the 1/4 cup of water/yeast slurry?

  2. Adding 16oz of honey will increase the volume, but not by 16oz. The sugars in the honey dissolve, raising the specific gravity. The volume would rise according to the amount of water in the honey. The 1/4 of water would raise the volume by 1/4 cup.