Cider is actually pretty simple to make, the key to making it work is ensuring that all equipment is cleaned and sterilised beforehand in order to protect against bacteria etc.
The basic 10 steps to making cider….
Step 1 – Gather your apples, avoid any that are mouldy, however you can still use any windfall apples; slightly bruised apples; and those that had had the odd bird peck!
Step 2 – a couple of days before cider crushing/pressing day wash the apples. I normally chuck them into a tuff crate and fill with water and leave to soak.
Step 3 – Wash and sterilise all equipment.
Step 4 – Make the apples into a pulp. I use a crusher now, but previously I used to cut and apples; put them through a potato chipper and then pulp them in a bucket. (google search for pulpmaster for the cheaper bucket solution)
Step 5 – Take your pulped apples and put them into your press (it’s recommended that you use a liner to stop the chunks off apples going into your fermenting vessel as they will potentially make the cider go off) and press them.
Step 6 – Once you’ve got a vessel full of freshly pressed apple juice, take a hydrometer reading to measure your specific gravity (and make a note of it), add a campden tablet for every gallon of juice you have (this kills off any bacteria/bugs that might be in the juice), cover (using an airlock) and leave for 2 days.
Step 7 – add some yeast (following the instructions for that particular yeast) cover (with an airlock) and leave to ferment away.
Step 8 – Once fermentation is finished (either it’s stops bubbling or the specific gravity is 1.000) measure your specific gravity (again making a note of it) and rack the cider off (i.e. take another clean/sterilised fermenting vessel and syphon from one to the other, trying to avoid the transference of the residue left in the bottom of the finished fermented cider).
Step 9 – Leave the racked off cider for a couple of weeks to clear and you can then either rack it off a second time or bottle it.
Step 10 – Use the following formula to work out your %age abv where a = the first specific gravity reading; b = specific gravity reading after fermentation :
(a-b)*105) * 1.25
Your cider is now ready to drink, if you want it fizzy add a teaspoon of sugar when bottling (make sure you use appropriate bottles otherwise it will potentially make a mess!) and leave a couple of weeks to process the sugar.