14 Day Hard Cider
What’s so cool about using a kit to make hard cider?
Well, I like a lot of people who have been making hard cider a while, tend to look down on hard cider kits. My personal adventures in cider making have varied from results that can be positioned as nectar of the gods, to “aaahhhhhhhggg”, as my wife once gagged! Oh, but when it’s good it is good. There is a lot of fun in experimenting and tweaking your recipes and processes.
The biggest difficulty for the beginner who wants to make hard cider for the first time is that they may be put off when a result turns out to be drinkable only with determination. After 2-4 months of waiting, a vinegar like, or slimy result can be very disappointing. I can’t help but smile wryly as I remember the occasions when after spending months nurturing a batch only to have it taste like the bottom of a mouse cage. You may be thinking, “What does a mouse cage taste like for goodness sake?” Trust me; you really do not want to know…
There are lots of things that can go wrong during the process of making hard cider; most of them though are associated with the ingredients; wrong mix or type of apples, natural yeast issues and bacterial contamination. Also using equipment made of the wrong materials can taint the result.
So how to get it right? Or more importantly, how to produce great hard cider first time, whilst learning and getting a feel for the process? This is where a kit comes in; with a kit you have in one swoop removed 90% of all the variables that cause disasters. The results can therefore turn out to be remarkably drinkable and consistent. You are left with the ‘one big rule’ and if you observe the ‘one big rule’ it actually takes quite an effort to mess this hard cider up.
The one big rule of successful hard cider making.
This cannot be over stated. Cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness. In our experience more batches of hard cider go wrong due to this one issue than any other single reason. As the fermentation process is one where the product is kept for an extended period at room temperatures, any contamination will be given the opportunity to grow and spoil the hard cider. Just as you would a baby’s bottle, all of your equipment should be sanitized including your work surface. This means starting with clean equipment and then sanitizing it, all of it. Follow this one simple rule and you should be free from the many hazards that await the naive first timer.
The rewards are worth the effort; home made hard cider is active and can be naturally carbonated. This is unlike bottled and canned beverages typically purchased in stores which are almost always pasteurized and artificially carbonated. Pasteurizing is usually done by heating the liquid to kill the majority of the bacteria and yeast, this process significantly affects the resulting flavor but enables mass production, transportation and extended storage life. While it is possible to get draft beers that are unpasteurized, hard cider of this type is a very rare find in the U.S.
Enjoy the results of your home made cider, whatever you think of it you will notice that it is quite different from hard cider you might purchase in stores. If you are like us you will be hooked on an entertaining, tasty and productive new activity.
What is the essence of the recipe?
Hard cider mix
Water & Sugar (not supplied)
There are six variations of flavors for this kit ‘Traditional’, Blackberry, Blueberry, Red Tart Cherry, Red Raspberry & Strawberry.
As you get more adventurous there are additional hard cider recipes that include malt, honey, pumpkin and caramel variations.
Directions Just a few simple steps
Sanitize – Mix & Ferment – Bottle & Carbonate – Condition
On the plus side
It’s a great way to start, everything you need in one package
You will probably get good results on your first attempt
The equipment is good and the result is predictable
The equipment can be used for subsequent more experimental recipes and the production of batches with stronger alcohol contents, this method will typically come out around 3-4%.
On the negative side
It’s a little expensive initially; you can reduce the costs of subsequent batches by using real apples or unpasteurized apple juice.
Considerations and variations
This cider can be enhanced by the addition of sugar when bottling to cause the hard cider to naturally carbonate and or using one of the variations of the hard cider concentrates above . The longer the bottles are left after this step the better the result, up to several months.
According to the manufacturer the base kits and flavors variations are gluten free. However some of the additional hard cider recipes contain barley which is a source of gluten. Always check ingredients to be sure.
Share your experience
Have you used a kit to produce you own hard cider? We are interested in your experiences, whether good, bad, fun or mishap. Share your experience, either comment below or use the contact us link to submit your story.
Tags: Make Hard Cider