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13 October 2010

Cheap-o 5 Gallon Cider Recipe 7% alc.

This procedure can be done with any size containers but recipe must be adjusted.

Cider is much easier and requires less work & ingredients than beer. In my opinion this is a great starter recipe that requires little work and only the basic brewing equipment. This recipe calls for ingredients I have used before and my results have always been consistent. The end result will be 6.25-7% alcohol depending on temperature, yeast health, and other brewing conditions.

Firstly you will need a 5 gallon container for fermenting (ideally this container will hold 5 gallons and have a few inches of space left at the top). This container will need the ability to be sealed air-tight and have a small hole to hook up a pressure release device (either a blow off hose or "airlock").

When it comes to what container to use for fermenting the first choice is glass, then certain types of metal, then wood, then plastic. My preferred brewing vessels would always be glass or wood but budget makes me stick with plastic for now.

!!!! Be careful when using a plastic vessel for brewing as many plastic containers are known to leech toxic substances into their contents, ruining their flavor and eventually your health. Look for the recycle logo with the number in it. Avoid using anything other than 4 or 2 (if possible avoid plastic in anything more than short term contact with your drink).
Info on plastic numbers
Reason to avoid ALL plastic in your diet

Here are a few of the container types I have used; remember to avoid plastic numbers 3,6,&7 - I would also avoid number 1 as it is not safe for repeated use:
 the brewbucket, made of #4 plastic. with airlock sticking out of the lid

the glass carboy with airlock attached to rubber bung
the 5 gallon #4 plastic water container I got at walmart
!!notice the blow off hose sticking into a bottle of water!!
(napkin around bottle of water to keep dust and mold spores out)

All of these fermenting vessels are airtight with a way for the gas released by the yeast to escape, but not allow any dirty outside air back in.

- sanitizer, (specialty no-rinse sanitizers from home-brew stores work but I sanitize my brewing equipment by soaking in a solution of 2 tbsp bleach per gallon hot water for 30 minutes then rinse well until the smell is gone)
- fermenting vessel
- secondary fermenting vessel (optional. many home-brewers with more modern information see less value in racking to a secondary vessel than those with older information. racking to a secondary was more important when yeast was lower quality and letting your brew age on dead yeast would give off-flavors)
- bottling bucket
- airlock device or blow off hose (in a pinch you can just stick a well rinsed out party balloon over the top of your carboy or jug and poke a couple of holes in it with a pin. this is enough to let pressure out while not letting germs in)
- racking hose (for removing fermented beverage from vessel without aerating it)
- racking cane or auto-siphon to connect to racking hose (I recommend using a auto-siphon or brewing in a bucket with a spigot)
- long handle spoon for stirring
- wine-thief or turkey baster (good for taking samples to measure specific gravity)
- hydrometer for measuring specific gravity and calculating potential alcohol (optional - I wont be using it in this recipe)
- clean glass jar (for yeast starter)
- funnel (these are always handy when brewing)
- containers to hold your finished brew. Use plastic jugs or glass bottles with wire lid fasteners like in the picture above with my wal-mart brewing jug. If you do not use a container that can contain a fair amount of pressure your finished product will EXPLODE MAKING A MESS AND HOPEFULLY TAKING YOUR EYE OUT!
- bottling tube (helps if you are racking using the spigot on a bottling bucket). I made mine by sawing down a plastic racking cane, which still functions as a proper racking cane by reconnecting the pieces with the bit of hose I use to connect it to my spigot.
here's my homemade bottling tube. its held to my spigot with a small piece of hose. Yeah, the floor needs to be mopped.

- 17 cans frozen apple juice concentrate. I use the Seneca 100% apple juice from wal-mart because the only additives it has are malic acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin c). Malic acid is added to home-brew cider alot if the apples aren't tart enough. Seneca is made by "apple and eve" so that brand works fine as well. You can basically use any brand that doesn't have any additives other than those.
- yeast: I use lalvin ec-1118, although nottingham ale yeast will make a more "beer like" cider.
- yeast nutrient: I use 1 tsp brewers yeast health supplement (bought from a health food store) per gallon cider, it is only dead yeast but yeast husks (the same thing) from a home-brew store will cost 500% as much. I also use 1 tsp wheat germ per gallon cider along with it. Apple juice on its own has very little nutrients for yeast and although the ec-1118 has lower nutrient requirements than most other yeasts, there is no reason not to feed your yeast the best you can since they are working to make you booze.
- organic raisins. 15 - 20 per gallon cider. This is your source of tannin.
- 480 ounces distilled or reverse osmosis water. Tap water sucks & you are crazy if you think your yeast will do well in water full of fluoride, chlorine, and all those other poisons.
- 1 cup pure water, same as above
- 1/2 cup white sugar


- If brewing in a bucket with a spigot fit cheese cloth or some other screen like material over the spigot's opening inside the vessel to keep it from being clogged with dead yeast and raisins later on.

1. First step is to sterilize your equipment well with a good washing then the sanitizing solution. RINSE WELL OR YOUR YEAST WILL DIE. After everything is rinsed off make sure it is covered so no dust or wild yeasts, molds, bacterias settle onto it and compete with your yeast later on.

2. Pour your 1 cup pure water (room temp) into your sanitized glass jar and add the 1/2 cup white sugar. Stir or shake well to fully dissolve the sugar. Dump in your packet of yeast, letting it sit on top and soak for 15 minutes. Cover with a paper towel or put the lid on loosely enough to let pressure escape, or your starter will explode. Gently stir the yeast into your sugar water and let it sit a good 30 - 90 minutes until you see a foam above the liquid and a well active fermentation in the liquid (churning and bits of solid matter bouncing up and down in the liquid is a sure sign).

3. Dump 14 cans frozen apple juice concentrate into your fermenting vessel. Since the directions on the can call for 3 cans of water for every one of juice, 5 gallons would be 160 oz juice concentrate and 480 oz water so the correct amount to make 5 gallons is 13.3333 cans, but there is no reason not to use an even 14. Do not continue with these steps until the juice has melted and is close to room temperature.

3. Add your nutrient and raisins to your fermenting vessel.

4. Add your 480 oz purified water.

5. If your yeast starter has already started actively fermenting gently swirl it to get all of the settled yeast floating again and pour it in your fermenting vessel.

Now put the lid / stopper and attach your airlock / blow-off hose.

I never rack to a secondary fermenter with this cider, so I leave it in its fermenting vessel 15 days. If you want to rack it to a secondary you can wait until your airlock or blow-off hose has slowed down its bubbling and is making about one bubble every minute, then leave in your secondary for the rest of the 15 days.

Last steps!!
After your 15 days is up sterilize your racking equipment and bottling bucket.

1. Take your remaining 3 cans of apple juice concentrate and dump them in your bottling bucket letting them melt before the next step. This is being added because the yeast doesn't stop fermenting until there is no sugar left, so unless you like very bitter and dry cider you will want to back-sweeten it.

2. Transfer your cider over to your clean bucket being careful not to stir up the layer of lees at the bottom of your fermenting vessel (lees is the layer of dead and dormant yeast that settles during fermentation).
Layer of lees at the bottom of this lager. Lees can be anywhere from 1 to 4 inches deep depending on your yeast strain.

3. Give your brew a few light stirs in the bottling bucket to make sure the back-sweetener is mixed in well and attach your bottling tube to the spigot or get your rackin cane/ auto-siphon out.

4. Bottle! When transferring to your storage containers be careful not to upset your beverage too much or you will lose carbonation. Put your bottling tube into your bottle between 1/4 to 3/4 inch from the bottom when bottling. Far enough to let it flow easily, but not so far it foams up.

Also be aware that there will still be some living yeast in the cider unless you heat it to 100 degrees farenheit, so keep an eye on your containers and make sure the pressure doesn't build up too high or you will have a booze grenade waiting to mess up your room, take an eye out, and maim your dog. I keep mine in the fridge because yeast goes almost dormant in a colder temperature (unless you used lager yeast).

Some people say you should let your cider age for a few weeks to a few months, I say those people are jerks and want to drive us insane from anticipation. The longest I have let my cider age is 1.5 weeks and that's only because I've been too busy drinking other stuff.