Here is a guide to making cider from apples or Perry from pears. This is a fun activity in itself let alone the cider you are going to make.
There are three main stages when making cider from apples (or perry from pears); juice extraction, fermentation and bottling. Below is an explaination of each stage and recipes are available in the Recipes section. For a more indepth explaination of the process read Real Cidermaking on a Small Scale by Michael Pooley & John Lomax.
These instructions will use the equipment available in the Complete Cider Making from Apples kit.
All equipment must be sterilised.
This is the most difficult part, getting the juice from the apples
If you would like to make cider from shop bought apple juice, please see the Turbo Cider section. There are also many fine Kits that we have available in the Cider Kits section
First you need to break up the apples, simply this can be done with a knife, cutting into very smalls square pieces. However, the use of a scratter or crusher will make things alot easier or even the Pulp Master, but for simplicity and cost alone, just putting the apples in a sterilised bucket and hitting with a large piece of wood works fine!
Then you need to put these pieces into a press and extract the juice, this can be done with a potato masher or blender but is more time consuming.
Once the juice has been collected you can start fermenting.
Pour the juice into the fermentation bin and check the specific gravity with a hydrometer. The reading can be between 1.040 and 1.070 which will work out as 5%-8% respectively. To strengthen your cider further, you can add more sugar.
Now you may want to check the acidity, the easiest way is by using pH Testing Strips. You want to aim for 3.9-4.0. If you need to increase the acidity add Precipitated Chalk, to decrease add Malic Acid.
The addition of 1 tsp per gallon of Pectolase will aid in clearing the cider, you dont have to use it but it will be cloudy (still perfectly drinkable tho!).
If using a sachet of yeast (rather than natural yeasts) you should now add 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon to avoid any bacterial infection. Wait 24 hours before you add the yeast. The yeast in the sachets should ferment up to 5 gallons.
The fermentation will be lively to begin with, but after it settles you should fit the airlock to the lid of the bin.
When the fermentation has finished, the specific gravity is 1.005 or lower and more importantly the cider tastes nice and dry, add another crushed campden tablet per gallon. After 24 hours taste again, if it is up to your liking then siphon into bottle or a barrel, ready to drink. Try to be careful not to transfer any of the sediment into the bottles or barrels.
Even though it will be ready to drink, it will get better with age and if you can hold off until the following summer, you will not be dissapointed.
If you are putting in bottles, for scrumpy cider just add as normal, however for a livlier cider add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per 500ml to the bottles. Then all you need to do is wait for 3 weeks minimum, but if left longer it will get better.