I started scaling a recipe down for someone to make cider with, and ended up rambling a good deal about making cider. Here's the recipe that resulted. It's designed to produce a little less then a gallon.
Green Apple Cider
Minimum aging time: 2 months
Typical yield, 4 750ml bottles plus a little to taste.
3 quarts seasonal apple cider, or apple juice with no potassium sorbate or potassium metabisulfite.
1 lb table sugar.
1/2 tsp pectin enzyme, optional but needed for a clear brew.
3 grams, or 1/2 tsp distillers yeast, or champagne yeast.
1 tsp yeast nutrient, optional. Can be safely omitted if not adding sugar.
1/2 tsp yeast energizer, optional. Can be safely omitted if not adding sugar.
1 cinnamon stick, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon. If using a cinnamon stick split lengthwise. See below.
2 lbs granny smith apples, you won't need these immediately so you can buy some fresh later if you want. You can use any tart apple, including crab-apples. Crab-apples just take more work to yield the same amount of apple solids.
A couple of freezer bags.
1/2 tsp bentonite powder, optional. Not needed if bulk aging, or if not clearing with pectin enzyme.
Another cinnamon stick, split lengthwise. Optional. See below.
This recipe is designed to be made in a fermentation bucket, not a 1 gallon carboy or jug. This stuff is pretty much fire water. If you want something a little tamer, use a full gallon of juice and omit the sugar completely. If you want to simplify the recipe further, you can also drop the solid apple addition or even the cinnamon.
The gravity of commercially produced juice is usually about 1.050, but it does vary so the OG, FG and derived ABV are really estimates. If you want good info, you need to take readings and adjust your fermentables accordingly.
Mix the juice and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. Alternately, heat the sugar in about 1 quart of the apple juice on the stove until the sugar is fully dissolved. Then mix with the rest of the juice.
Mix optional nutrients if you are using them. Pitch yeast. Wait.
Once you have hit FG, 3 identical gravity readings taken a day or more apart
, then you need the apples. Usually this takes two or three weeks, though if it's warm it can take as little as eight days.
Wash, clean, de-stem, quarter, and core the apples. No need to peel or slice them. Place in a slow cooker, or pan on low, with a little water in the bottom and a lid. You will need to do this as you are cutting the apples up or they will brown. The point here is to lightly steam the apples to keep them from turning brown, and cut down on the surface contamination.
Once you are all done, let the apples steam until just slightly softened. Usually about 5 minutes.
Place the apples in the freezer bags and freeze over night. The point of this is to rupture the cell walls of the fruit with large ice crystals. That improves the flavor extraction. The flavor produced doing this is very different from what you would get by breaking the cell walls down with heat.
The next day, let the apples partially thaw and add them to the fermentor, also add the cinnamon stick. If using ground cinnamon, simmer the ground cinnamon in a cup of the cider for 20 minutes. Then add back to the fermentor. You can also add a tiny pinch of nutmeg. I didn't list this as it's typically 1/4 tsp for a 5 gallon batch and it's very easy to over do it in a one gallon batch.
Let the cider sit on the fruit for about two weeks. Scoop out the floating fruit with a slotted spoon, or similar. I usually use the spider I bought for deep frying, I keep it really clean and it works very well.
Pour the remaining cider through a colander to get any remaining apple pieces out. Leave the yeast cake and any other sediment in the fermentor. Yes, I know about oxidation. For some reason it doesn't seem to do doodly when you are making cider. Not sure why, but it really doesn't.
If you are going to bottle clear brew, add the bentonite powder and wait 3 days before bottling. If you aren't using pectin enzyme, or don't care if the brew is cloudy, then you can bottle immediately. If you are bulk aging, then just rack to your aging jug. By the time the aging is complete the sediment will have settled anyway.
Optional, add half a cinnamon stick split lengthwise to each 750ml bottle when bottling. You can reuse the stick added to the fermentor with the apples. If you wish, you can also add both split sticks with the apples and then save them to add to the bottles. It is important that they be split lengthwise, as the sticks will unroll when wet and could be impossible to remove from the bottles otherwise.
This brew needs to be aged a minimum of 2 months. Six months or more is preferable.
This brew stinks:
Generally speaking, this is a fairly stinky fermentation. Especially if you neglect the nutrients. That's normal, don't worry about it unless it gets really bad. If it does get really bad, stir vigorously. You want to release the h2s gas. Then add a couple of 1983, or earlier, pennies to the fermentor and stir again. You want the remaining h2s to react with the copper oxide and fall out of solution. Do not wait until you hit FG to do this, it won't work as well then. If it smells like a fart, relax. If it smells like rotten eggs, then you need to do something. You can also stir with a copper spoon or whisk if you happen to have one.
Generally speaking, the best thing to back sweeten with is frozen apple juice concentrate. You can, of course, back sweeten with anything you would like. Including honey or maple syrup. If you are going to back sweeten before bottling, make sure you pasteurize your bottles to avoid bottle bombs. There is a sticky in the cider section
on stove top pasteurization that is very helpful.
I usually use this priming sugar calculator
for carbonated cider.