I love cider. In the pub. Out of a bottle. From a can, even. Do you? It’s so crisp and lovely! I always thought cider making was difficult and required lots of expensive equipment and precision, like beer making. Spoiler: it doesn’t!
What you need
- Cider press (ours came from eBay)
- A crusher (eBay again)
- Champagne yeast and pectolase
- Campden tables and Milton tablets
- A brewing bucket or demijohns
- Air locks
- Bottles (we use flip-top but screwtop wine bottles will work, too)
How it works
- Collect your apples and wash them – once in water, once with crushed campden tables
- Sterilise your bucket or demijohns. We used Milton tablets for this
- Chop your apples roughly
- Crush your apples in the crusher
- Press your apples in the press
- Add campden tablets and pectolase to your juice
- A day later add champagne yeast to your juice
- Wait and enjoy!
We got our apples from our garden. We were lucky to inherit 7 big old apple trees, and we planted a small one ourselves. 5 years later this small one is so full of apples! I’d very much recommend growing your own – you can keep the tree small if you don’t have a lot of space, or even grow it in a container. But of course not all of us are fortunate enough to have s bit of an orchard, so forage! Find that neighbour who doesn’t want to harvest their apples! Or buy some! The more apples you have, the more cider you’ll end up with – but juicier ones give you more juice, obvs. If you’re buying your apples get different varieties – sweet ones, tart ones, big ones, small ones. We find that the apples get sweeter if you don’t use them straight away, but they get less juicy as they age. Leaving them for a week or so after harvesting has worked well for us.
So, you’ve got your apples – what now? Wash them! We wash ours in the sink – once in water, and once in crushed campden tablets. This removes ‘bad yeast’, which you don’t want in your cider! You should also sterilise your bucket or demijohns – we use Milton tablets for babies for this.
Once your apples are dry you can start chopping them. I like to chop them into quarters and then once more, but you don’t have to be precise. Remove any brown bits as you go along. You can leave the stalk and core in – no need to take them out.
Then it’s time to crush the apples. You could do this manually but I’d really recommend getting a crusher. We got ours on eBay and I wouldn’t want to be without it. It looks a bit like a medieval torture device and it’s teeth are quite sharp – be careful not to crush your fingers! Ours fits beautifully onto a washing up bowl, so that’s what we crush our apples into. Two bowl full our press. On fancier, more expensive presses you can set the crusher on top and crush straight into the press, but ours has that long winding pin in the way. Here’s a little video of the crushing process:
Once you’ve crushed your apples, place them inside your press, and start pressing. Screw the wood down until you feel decent resistance and the juice starts running. Don’t lower it any further – wait until the juice dries up before you lower it more. That way the press does the work for you. Remember to place your bucket underneath to catch your juice! We actually screw our press into the kitchen table…
And that’s it! Soon you’ll be knee-deep in beautiful crisp apple juice! You can just drink this – we always sample some in tiny cups – but if you’re patient you can have lovely alcoholic cider in time for Christmas!
So, once you are done crushing and pressing and you have processed all your apples, you’ll need to do the following: add campden tablets (1 tablet for every 5 litres) and pectolase (1 teaspoon per 5 litres). Stir it, and leave it for a day with the lid on, and an air lock fitted. On the next day, add your champagne yeast (1 teaspoon or so). Then, a week later, we decant ours into demijohns, and then the long wait begins…
We wait about two months before we drink ours – we make our cider in mid-October so it’s ready for Christmas!