STEP SIX: SEAL AND STORE
Once everything is sufficiently shaken up, remove the caps once again. Now it’s time to assemble the airlocks that will allow the yeast to breath while it’s busy turning all that sugar in to delicious alcohol. Each of your rubber stoppers should have a hole in the center. Press the stem of each airlock down into this hole until there’s a strong seal.
Remove the perforated plastic lid that sits on the top of each air lock. Use a liquid measuring cup or pitcher to pour a small amount of water down into the airlock. There should be “max” lines on the two larger chambers of the airlock. Try to fill it up to those lines, but not over. You want there to be enough water so that bugs and bad bacteria can’t get down into the jug, but not so much that it overflows once the yeast starts bubbling. Press each stopper/airlock combo down into the neck of one of your glass jugs. Replace the perforated plastic lid on top of the airlock. Voila! The easy bit is done. Now comes the hard part: waiting.
Find a cool, dry, and preferably dark spot in your house to store the jugs while they ferment. Ideally, they should be kept between 50 and 65 degrees, but a few degrees in either direction shouldn’t matter too much. We stored ours in a linen closet. If you’re worried about the cider getting too warm, wrap them up in some damp bath towels and aim a floor fan directly at them. Re-dampen the towels as needed.
For delicious apfelwein, wait at least a full week before taking a taste. Remove the airlock and stopper, and use a turkey baster to extract some of the brew. If it tastes too dry or yeasty for your liking, replace the stopper and let it age another week. Once you’ve arrived at the taste you like, put the jugs in the fridge for 2-3 days to “crash” the yeast. Transfer the liquid carefully to another container, being carefully not to disturb the sediment that will have gathered on the bottom of the jug. Rinse out the yeast, and transfer the cider back to the original container. Now the cider can safely hang out for awhile: it can be bottled if you want to buy the appropriate equipment, or aged for months in the glass jugs.
Lead image via tvol/Flickr