This is my Simple Cider recipe. As I noted in my Simple Cider introduction post, it’s actually quite hard to make a simple cider recipe. There are some key fundamental elements that have a big impact on the recipe. Are you using juice or do you have whole apples? Has your juice been pasteurized or can you use the natural yeast present on the apples? What basic equipment do you have? It’s hard to make a simple recipe without understanding some of those key elements. That means I need to make some assumptions.
I am going to assume that you have an apple tree or two with an abundance of apples that you need to use. If you are using juice from the store, consider one of the other cider recipes on my recipe page. I would suggest, Making My First Hard Cider. With whole fruit, you need to convert your apples into juice. There are a multitude of ways to make that happen. The most common for first time cider makers is a juicer. In fact, I am still using a juicer. I find that I can quickly process up to 150 pounds of apples with my wide-mouth masticating juicer. I have several juicing and pressing articles on the site and you can find some of the links at the bottom of this article. You can also search juice or pressing on the website as well.
I am also going to assume that you have a peeler or knife, a carboy (demijohn) or bucket to use as a fermenter, an airlock, a siphon or plastic tube, and finally, bottles or another carboy you can use to to store your cider once it’s complete. If you don’t have an airlock, use a ballon with a pinhole, a plastic bag with a pinhole, or some cheese cloth. If you don’t have a siphon or plastic tube, you can pour the cider out but you will want to leave it overnight in the refrigerator to help clarify it before pouring. You will also want to leave a little cider in the bottom to avoid trying to get the last drop without sediment. You can see why I said it’s hard to write a simple hard cider recipe.
You could argue that my addition of apple peels makes this simple hard cider recipe more complex. But, I would say that peeling is a simple task and the benefits you will get by adding the peels makes it worth it. My goal isn’t to give you a simple cider recipe that doesn’t taste good. I’m trying to help you make a simple recipe that should be better than most of the ciders you will find in the grocery store. Add the peels, you will thank me when you are drinking it.
You will notice that the recipe doesn’t have yeast. It also doesn’t have Campden or other compounds added to it. That’s because you don’t need these other items. They can have a purpose but in general, they aren’t needed and often overused. If you are using apples that you wash and press yourself, I’m assuming you are using apples you would eat. The apples will have enough natural yeast to convert the juice into cider. Even if you wash the apples, they will still have enough yeast and your equipment and home will also have yeast in it. If you are using store-bought juice, you will most likely need to add yeast because the juice will have been pasteurized to stabilize it. If you are buying juice, get organic or juice that has been pasteurized because juice with preservatives may not ferment even if yeast is added. It won’t be easy at least.
Remember that natural yeast often takes longer to start fermenting because the colony has to build. Keeping it warmer (around 20C/68F) will speed that process. Where inoculated yeast will often finish in a week or two, natural yeasts could take months, especially in a cool environment.
Lastly, to keep this a simple cider recipe, I didn’t carbonate the cider. This allows you to use your carboy or almost any bottle to store the final product. I am assuming you don’t have a bottle capper, swing top bottles, or even bottles that can handle pressure. A simple still cider that is served slightly chilled is quite refreshing and the peels will ensure you have some added complexity. Just be sure the cider is done fermenting before sealing it up. This is where an airlock is good because you can prevent oxygen exposure and let your cider age to ensure everything is stable. Keeping it cool will also help.
If you have questions or my recipe was too simple or not simple enough, leave me a comment or send me a message and I’ll try to help you out. Remember to follow me for more cider information and consider supporting PricklyCider.com by buying my book or getting some of your cider supplies using my recommended links. You can find more details on the Recommended Products Page.