Homemade Spiced Hard Apple Cider
So, unfortunately, the outbreak of coronavirus has put our movie nights on hold. In the meantime, I have started a new hobby of making homemade wines. It was surprisingly easy. I do it with a kit that I purchased from Brewsy (Click the name for a referral link with a discount code.)
The idea is simple. You get ahold of some juice that is preservative free. You put information about your juice in their online calculator. That calculator tells you how much sugar to add to it so that your yeast has something to eat. Then, you add the yeast pack, put a one-way air valve on it, and leave it in a dark room for three days. After that, put it in the fridge for two days. After two days, the yeast has stop fermenting and settles to the bottom of the jug or bottle. I then rack it, to get rid of the excess yeast and have a cleaner flavor.
Anyways, that's really it. Not hard at all. You can use juice straight out of the bottle, but if you are like me and want to get creative, you can season it up. Below is my recipe for Hard Spiced Apple Cider which turned out to be quite a hit.
Hard Spiced Cider
1 gallon of preservative-free pure apple cider or thick natural apple juice. (If your juice is transparent, it will not be as good. It should look brown. Simply Apple is a good brand of juice. Just make sure whatever you get is preservative free; otherwise, it will not ferment and you will just end up with a delicious juice. I made that mistake the first time doing this.)
1 brewsy bag
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp allspice
pinch of nutmeg
cinnamon (to taste)
1 3/4 cup of cane sugar
You will need a large pot, an empty gallon jug, a funnel, and a one-way topper (three one-way tops are included with your first brewsy kit)
Pour your cider into a large pot and bring it up to a high heat.
While the cider is warming up, stir in the brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Make sure that everything dissolves into the cider. You may have to add more cinnamon or nutmeg depending on your individual taste.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 20 min.
After 20 minutes, remove from heat.
(IF YOU STOP THE PROCESS HERE, YOU CAN SERVE THIS AS DELICIOUS WARM NON-ALCOHOLIC CIDER)
Using a ladle, remove 2 1/4 cups of juice. I like to evenly distribute this into two mugs for my flatmate and myself to drink. Be careful. It will be hot. Removing the juice is necessary to ensure there is enough air left over in the jug for the fermentation process. As you drink your cider, decide if any additional cinnamon or nutmeg should be added.
While the cider is still warm, stir the cane sugar into your cider.
Now let the cider cool a bit before continuing. Using a funnel, transfer the cider back into the gallon jug.
(IF YOU STOP THE PROCESS HERE, YOU CAN REFRIGERATE YOUR DRINK AND HAVE A DELICIOUS CHILLED NON-ALCOHOLIC CIDER)
If the jug is still hot, wait before adding the contents of the yeast packet. I suggest using a food thermometer to check the temperature. I recommend getting the juice to a temperature between 90 and 100 degrees and then adding the yeast. Put the cap back on the gallon and shake it to ensure the yeast mixes thoroughly. Then remove the cap and add the one-way topper.
Put jug in a dark warm place (75 degrees is preferred). Wrap it in a blanket or old sweater if the room is not warm.
The cider will be ready to be put in the fridge in 72 hours. It's a good idea to give it a little shake every once in a while though to ensure the yeast is still working throughout and not settling too much. After those 72 hours, it is ready to put in the fridge. Moving it in the fridge early will leave it sweeter, but less fermented. Letting it ferment longer will loose more sweetness and increase the alcohol content. It is okay to sample your cider to see if you are happy with the level of sweetness. If it is not sweet enough sugar can be added later. If you decide to let it ferment longer, don't go any longer than a day, though honestly, I wouldn't even recommend going that long.
After 48 hours in the fridge, rack the cider by slowly pouring its contents into another container, trying to get as much of the cider as you can, without getting the yeast sludge that will be sitting on the bottom of your jug. Be careful to not shake it of disturb it too much, because you want the yeast to stay on the bottom while you pour. After removing as much cider as you could, feel free to clean your jug and transfer the cider back into it carefully with a funnel. Then return your drink to the fridge. Because your wine is preservative free, store it in the refrigerator from this point on so that it will last longer and preserve its flavor.
That's it. Your cider is ready to drink. Enjoy and be prepared to share. If your cider is not sweet enough, or if it has lost flavor after fermenting, it is perfectly okay to add a little more sugar, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Be careful to not over season though.
This recipe is a big hit. I have even started bottling it to give to friends as a holiday gift. If you want to try it yourself, don't forget to use the link at the top to get a discount on your first brewsy kit, which includes toppers, yeast packs, and a detailed guidebook to making homemade wines and ciders. Using the link will also save me some money on my next order of yeast packs. ;-) I definitely plan to order more soon.