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Simple Hard Cider Recipe, 5 gallons
Ingredients:5 Gallons of preservative free Apple Cider.
5 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
Cider or Ale Yeast
1-2 pounds of Sugar, Honey, Brown Sugar, and/or 1 extra gallon of Apple Cider to be frozen and saved for just before bottling
3-5oz Priming Sugar
1/4 tsp. Potassium Metabisulfite
2.5 tsp. Potassium Sorbate
Depending on the temperature you ferment at, the primary fermentation should be complete within 1-2 weeks. Rack the Hard Cider to a 5 gallon carboy for aging and clearing. Rack the Hard Cider 2-3 times over the next 6 months to separate it from the sediment. Once your Hard Cider is as clear as you would like it, determine if you would like to finish the cider; dry or sweet, and still or sparkling.
For Dry Hard Cider-
Still: Simply bottle the Hard Cider once it has reached the clarity you want.
Sparkling: Mix 3-5oz of priming sugar into the Hard Cider in a Bottling Bucket and bottle. Store bottles above 68ºF for 2-3 weeks, once the Hard Cider is carbonated move the bottles into an area that is around cellar temps(45-55ºF).
For Sweet Hard Cider-
Still: Sweeten to taste, using table sugar, honey, brown sugar, or the extra gallon of sweet cider you saved from the beginning. TIP: Allow the frozen cider to only partially thaw and use only the thicker concentrated portion to back sweeten. Add the Potassium Metabisulfite and Potassium Sorbate, mix well and bottle.
Sparkling: The easiest method for this style is to sweeten and keg. Unfortunately not everyone has the equipment for kegging and force carbonating. There are two methods to bottle condition sweet Hard Cider but vigilance and caution are need to perform them safely.
Pasteurization- Sweeten the Hard Cider to taste, mix in 3-5 oz of Priming Sugar. Bottle in glass beer bottles and cap, store the bottles at above 68ºF. After 1 week cool one bottle down to serving temperature and open to test carbonation, repeat daily until the carbonation is where you want it. Once the Hard Cider reaches the desired carbonation level (while cold) pasteurize immediately. Warm a tall kettle of enough water to submerge your bottles half way to 160ºF. Place the bottles of Hard Cider into the water for 10 minutes. Use caution when you remove the bottles from the pot, they will be HOT. The Hard Cider can be stored at room temperature indefinitely from here on.
Cold Storage- Follow the same steps for the last method. Once you get the level of carbonation you're after, refrigerate all bottles of Hard Cider below 38ºF until they are gone. In this method you can use glass or plastic beer bottles.
CAUTION: Do Not attempt to bottle condition sweet Hard Cider if you can not pay very close attention to the process. Failing to arrest the re-fermentation in sealed bottles WILL cause dangerous levels of pressure to build and can cause glass bottles to explode, leading to injury and/or a dangerous mess.
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