top of page

Welcome to the hard cider distilling class, this was one of my most favorite projects and after 3 years of trials and tribulations, I have the formulas and one should suit your way of life.

I've tried many different store bought ciders and the one thing they have in common is the end product is always the same, I've made store bought grape cider, its a bit more expensive but tasty.

I've worked out all the weak links, and am only subject to one right now, I can not control the quality or prior storage of the yeast, and todays people before you don't care if they ruined something as long as they get their money first, I found plenty of that.

So before I get you the formulas, let me clear up the pit falls first. The musts that I found to be most relevant were clean bottles, you can two or sometimes three brews before the duds start rearing their ugly head. I use 2 oz of ammonia per bottle and shake it good 3 or 4 times per day for up too two days. You need a good top capable of holding pressure, I started with this plastic hand unit

and 100 caps, it worked well for the first 100 but the second a not so much, as a small part broke off the thing and that was enough to drop me below the threshold pressure of distilling. Occasionally a flip top bottle I bought would be weak to close and this would be the reason for the dud. I also found that not moving them around in the fridge helped lower the dud ratio.

Once made and pasteurized then you can move and store them outside the fridge.

The one thing you cant initially control is the quality of the yeast, my first purchase was a small container and every bit of it was good. My second was a large container that must have been exposed to heat where the inside where I first started scooping from was good, but as the outside part began falling into the hole, it must have contaminated the inside portion and I began getting duds. I switched again and once in a while 1 in 4, I get mold out of clean and pressurized bottles. So this right now is my biggest crap shoot, what is not a crap shoot is my formula.

I began by buying unpasteurized gallons of cider in the fall in the north and letting them sit in the fridge for two month, this produced some delicious hard cider. Much later on I learned you can add yeast to store bought cider or even juices as long as they have not added any ingredients to prevent pasteurization (you can find a list of those on line), so I set out using different amounts of yeast and letting them sit, adding 1/2 a level teaspoon to a half gallon cider set still in the fridge yielded my past results. This though made me need 56 bottles to be able to drink one a day or larger bottles to begin with to get to the next batch, and if I had any duds then that's a day w/o.

I started adding more yeast to shorten the time, but this increased the volatility of the product, sometime the whole bottle just fizzed out of control until there was nothing left. So the 3/4 level teaspoon (and well dissolved) to a gallon for 6 weeks was good combination, until my bottler broke and then I had to switch to 1 level teaspoon per gallon for 4 weeks and don't let it go much beyond that for the volatility grows by the day. Respect the expiration date on the yeast container, I was w/in 2 months of my expiration and I got no lights, all dudes, so keep this in mind too.

It's been stated that yeast expand expodnentialy until their food supply (sugar) is used up, but by then the product is under too much pressure and the bitterness arrives as the sugar is now gone.

Now to the pasteurization, I suggest this as a way to stop the distillation or the pressurization process, which keeps the sweetness in and the pressure from going up, and allows warm storage to take place. I slowly heat the hard cider bottle to about 130 degrees and turn off the stove and let them cool. From here you can store the bottle at room temp and then fridge it before use and you have the exact same product but no chance of fizzing out of the bottle.

Now this product is so good I wanted to test it side by side with store bought, so I have on many occasions, and what I'm finding is that to increase the alcohol content a different additive has been the only difference, guessing the additive has been a challenge, but what has not been a challenge is deciding which one I prefer the best, and it always comes back to my original <2% hard cider.

Here's me opening a bottle that is slightly over pressured but after 2 or 3 tries it did open to atm pressure.

Good Luck, Best wishes, and enjoy this alternative to store bought hard cider.

bottom of page