Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday I wrote about homebrewing your own beer, but that is not all that can be home "brewed". Cider has been around for ages, and was actually a much more popular drink in ages past than beer. "Hard" Cider is cider that has had fermentation occur to make it alcoholic. Beer became more popular with the discovery of hops and other methods for preserving it so that it could be transported. But apples grow all over the place.

Who remembers the stories of Johnny Appleseed from when they were younger? What most people think of are the great apples that are available year round at grocery stores nowadays. Well, if you put those thoughts towards Johnny Appleseed, you would be wrong. He planted mostly small hard apples, that stored well, but were much better for cider than for eating. Just think of it, spreading alcohol instead of fruit? They wouldn't teach that in schools!

Cider is very easy to make, but for the die-hard cider enthusiast, it could have some major expenses. In order to make cider, all you need to do is crush apples, and drink the juice. Voilá! Cider. To make this cider "Hard", it just needs to ferment in a barrel for a few weeks where the free yeast in the air will ferment the sugar in the cider making it alcoholic. In order to speed it up and get reproducable results, we have the option to use packaged beer or wine yeast.

When I say there could be expenses, I mean equipment. Everywhere I have lived, I have been able to find orchards where you could get bushels of overripe or blemished skin apples relatively inexpensively. In order to increase your yield and the speed which you can make cider, you would want a fruit press. If you can get the crusher with the press, even better. Crushing the fruit will increase your yield by a goodly amount. The cider presses available run from $150 (maybe) and up, but they do quickly reduce the amount of time it takes to make cider from fresh fruit.

Always remember, that cider is not always made from apples. Pear Cider, aka "Perry", is very common and enthused about in Europe and small areas around the country here. Same process, different fruit.

If you have extra cider, or you let it go too long, hey, apple cider vinegar has lots of health benefits and works well for a lot of cooking purposes as well. Before it gets to that point, you could distill it to "Apple Jack" or apple brandy. (LEGAL NOTE: same as beer, I make no claims about the legality of this. Verify that for yourself.)

If you have a chance, I highly recommend Hard Cider. Its got a good taste, with a relatively low alcohol content, and you get your fruit every time you drink some! Gotta love it!


HermitJim said...

Wish I had a good source of fresh fruit such luck in this concrete filled envirounment...

Nice post!

Chris W said...

Farmergeek, I'm working on getting a cider press myself. I have friends with one who haven't used theirs in years. Don't forget the abandoned orchard next door to me this year. Not the best for just eating, but we did get some great applesauce from it, so I don't see why they wouldn't be good for cider.