STEP THREE: PREP YEAST AND CHOOSE SPICESNow that you've got all your ingredients and equipment within arms reach, it's time to start mixing things up. Open all the bottles so they're ready (but save the caps!). If you're going to experiment with different combinations of sugar, yeast, and spice, be sure to write it on the bottle's label with a marker. It will all look the same once you're done, so it could be hard to keep track.
STEP ONE: GATHER YOUR MATERIALS & INGREDIENTS
Unlike beer brewing, which can be complicated and requires a plethora of specific ingredients, creating hard apple cider is relatively straight forward – and depending on how fancy you want to get, very affordable. You’ll need to make a quick stop to a local brewer’s supply store and the market for:
+ 1 package of wine yeast (Montrechet is common and highly recommended, but we also experimented with MA33 Vintner’s Harvest) + Five plastic airlocks + Five #6 rubber stoppers with a hole for the airlock + Five gallons of fresh pressed apple cider, in one gallon glass jugs (Whole Foods 365 brand or Cadia Organic Apple Juice works best) + Brown sugar, assorted spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ground ginger + Measuring utensils and a clean funnel + Permanent marker
Note: most yeast is packaged for 5 gallon batches, so that’s the yield for this recipe. You can make more or less, but you’ll have to adjust the yeast accordingly.
STEP TWO: PREPARE YOUR WORK SPACE
Once it comes time to combine the ingredients, things will move kind of quickly, so it’s best to get everything laid out and ready before you start. You’ll want a 1/4 cup measuring cup for the sugar, and teaspoons for the spices if you choose to use them. You’ll also need a small dish for mixing up the yeast and small funnel for getting everything down in the bottles.
Oh YES! The bottles. The bottles are the reason this recipe is so easy and perfect for beginners. In most beer or wine making recipes, lots of time and attention is required to sterilize the containers that will hold the alcohol. But this recipe uses apple juice that’s already living in perfectly sterile glass bottles! Be sure that the bottled juice is at room temperature when you start (too hot or cold and it could be bad for the yeast) and try not to touch the rim or inside of the bottle.