So far I have come up with two different “cider” recipes that I enjoy. Some people might not call them recipes, since I don’t too scientific. Let’s just say I have two methods that produce drastically different results.
Recipe #1 is more of a sparkling apple wine, and it is much stronger than an actual cider. I developed this one first, and it’s definitely the one that I prefer. For this recipe, I use champagne yeast, and the cheap apple juice I get from BJ’s Wholesale Club. I use a lot more of yeast than the packet says to (a whole packet or close to it), and it ferments much more quickly than a beverage with a normal amount of yeast. With this recipe I have to make sure I rack (fancy word for transfer) it to a second fermenter (fancy word for jug) at one week or less since the yeast consumes all the sugars and dies off so quickly. If you go with an extreme amount of yeast, make sure you leave plenty of room in your fermenter. After racking it, it needs a couple of weeks to sit in the second fermenter. I add a lot of sugar when I bottle to provide plenty of bubbles. It sits in the bottles for about a week as well, and then goes straight into the fridge to kill of any yeast that is still alive and kicking.
Recipe #2 is more of your normal cider, and I use a cider yeast for it. I still go with a little more than the packet says, because I like my beverages a little on the stronger side. I use higher quality juice since the cider yeast doesn’t take away as much of the apple flavor as the champagne yeast. I use unfiltered apple juice, and so I rack it after a couple weeks to a second fermenter to help it clear a bit. I let this one go a bit longer, and I still add sugar when I bottle, just a whole lot less of it. This is my wife’s preferred recipe, and it’s definitely less potent.
I’m sure you can see I’m not overly scientific about how I do this. That’s because I don’t need to be. If I wanted to produce 99% consistent results I would probably need to sanitize everything better than I do, use bottled water, use precise amounts of yeast, measure specific gravity, keep a closer eye on the temperature in my apartment, and stick to the same timelines for every batch. I do absolutely none of that and I’m still happy with what I get. The best part is that by not sticking to one thing every time, I’m constantly tailoring my cider to my taste and learning and having fun. To me, this is never a chore.
I hope you start your first batch of cider soon if you haven’t already, and remember… “Produce your freedom, or life will produce your chains.” -Me