How to start brewing cider

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Sr_X

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Hello there.

I am absolutely new to the brewing world, however I would ardently like to prepare my own cider. Short story, I lived on a country where finding cider was easy, and then after a few years, the situation changed and the country where I am located now has a lot of fruits, but definitely no cider (not at all). Since my background is more related with soil science rather than food and beverages, I have to appeal to the kindness of the brewing community, looking for some advice.

In short, how do I start? I am not looking for specific and detailed answers (not closed to them, though), I am rather looking for some tips to guide my first steps in this endeavour. I have seen that the cider industry in this country does not exist, hence the equipment is very hard to get. I might be able to get some equipment for beer brewing (which is very popular here, nowadays), however nothing specific for cider brewing. I know that some of the equipment can be used and that is what I plan to do, however I would not like to waste my resources vainly.

Any information about dimensioning and basic calculations is welcome, I know the basic process, with information I found on-line, however I would like to know something more, from experts.

Thanks and cheers!

Regards from Ecuador.
 

cmac62

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SrX it is really easy. Get 1 gal of store Apple juice (AJ) as long as there are no preservatives add some yeast, cover and let it go. Of course if you want to do a little more there are a few things that can make it better. The type of yeast used, using some yeast nutrient and temperature of the fermentation are some of the things that will have the most effect on the final outcome. You may also want a airlock. You may also want to remove just a bit of the cider/juice from the jug. Good luck :mug:
 

cmac62

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I didn't even read you hole post before responding. The brewing shops will have everything you need to do some cider. What you need is basically something to ferment (AJ), something to ferment it in (from a gallon jug to 20+ gallon stainless steel), yeast and yeast nutrient is your using it. I'd put an airlock on it just cause. These things may also be available online, but I don't know what that is like where you're at.
 

Chalkyt

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First advice is to read Yooper's post at the top of the page. Then spend $50 or so on Claude Jolicoeur's "The New Cidermakers Handbook" or Andrew Lea's "Craft Cider Making", or preferably both.

Ecuador is typically known for its tropical fruits, but as you also have high mountains do you also grow apples? Part of the fun of the whole cidermaking process is grinding/juicing the apples to make your own cider from the start... but having said that, store bought juice is fine as outlined above. I have made some very good cider this way, especially with single variety juice that I can blend to my liking.

Not much equipment is needed. I do my primary ferment in an open bucket (but covered to keep the nasties out). Then when primary fermentation is finished I transfer to a carboy fitted with an airlock and let secondary fermentation continue for as long as I want. The final step is to bottle (either still, sweet, carbonated, etc). Just search the forum for information and advice on all of this.

You mentioned dimensioning and basic calculations. I typically ferment in one gallon (5 litres) batches so that I can use different yeasts, apple blends etc. A typical starting SG is 1.055 so buy a hydrometer so you can see how your product is progressing. The alcohol level (ABV) is easily calculated from (OG-FG)x 1.31. i.e. a 1.055 original gravity juice (OG) will have 7.2% ABV when fermented down to FG of 1.000. For carbonating cider, search for posts on carbonation, pasteurisation, etc.

Have fun.
 
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Sr_X

Sr_X

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First advice is to read Yooper's post at the top of the page. Then spend $50 or so on Claude Jolicoeur's "The New Cidermakers Handbook" or Andrew Lea's "Craft Cider Making", or preferably both.

Ecuador is typically known for its tropical fruits, but as you also have high mountains do you also grow apples? Part of the fun of the whole cidermaking process is grinding/juicing the apples to make your own cider from the start... but having said that, store bought juice is fine as outlined above. I have made some very good cider this way, especially with single variety juice that I can blend to my liking.

Not much equipment is needed. I do my primary ferment in an open bucket (but covered to keep the nasties out). Then when primary fermentation is finished I transfer to a carboy fitted with an airlock and let secondary fermentation continue for as long as I want. The final step is to bottle (either still, sweet, carbonated, etc). Just search the forum for information and advice on all of this.

You mentioned dimensioning and basic calculations. I typically ferment in one gallon (5 litres) batches so that I can use different yeasts, apple blends etc. A typical starting SG is 1.055 so buy a hydrometer so you can see how your product is progressing. The alcohol level (ABV) is easily calculated from (OG-FG)x 1.31. i.e. a 1.055 original gravity juice (OG) will have 7.2% ABV. For carbonating cider, search for posts on carbonation, pasteurisation, etc.

Have fun.
Thanks! Indeed, we have apples, I am not a specialist, but some of them are very tasty, later on I would like to try with other fruits/blends, but one step at a time. I will search for the books and I will keep you posted about the progress.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Sr_X and welcome. Here's the thing: you can make a very basic cider type drink by simply purchasing bottles of juice (preservative free is critical); removing, say 1 cup (about 250 ml) of juice and adding some wine or ale yeast. If you cover the top with cheese cloth that will allow the CO2 (carbon dioxide) the yeast pump out to escape and prevent any dirt or insects from entering.
Traditionally, in the US and Europe, cider is the name given to alcoholic apple juice, but you can ferment berries, stone fruit (mangoes, papayas, plums, peaches, apricots etc) pineapples, etc. You can also ferment honey (1 part honey to 3 parts water will make a wine (mead) that is about twice as alcoholic as your "cider").
Most juice will have a specific gravity (density) of about 1.050 because of the sugars from the fruit and when that density drops to 1.000 or lower the yeast will have eaten all the sugar. Fruit wines (or ciders) tend to benefit from some sweetness to counter the acidity and tannins in the fruit so you may want to sweeten this "cider" (if most wine will be about 10- 14% ABV (alcohol by volume) cider is likely to be closer to 5-7% ABV). But sweetening a cider (or wine ) after it has fully fermented will need to be stabilized to prevent the remaining yeast from fermenting the sugars you add OR you will need to drink this wine or mead before the yeast convert those sugars into CO2 and ethanol. Stabilization is performed by adding two chemicals - K-sorbate and K-meta (Potassium sorbate , Potassium meta-bi-sulfate) .
If you are simply fermenting commercially produced fruit juice you can treat that juice as bacteria and yeast free. If you are juicing your own fruit you may want to sanitize the juice and the tools and containers you use.
To make a very bright and clear cider you will want to add pectic enzymes - that is enzymes to break down the pectins in the fruit. You are not adding pectins as if you are making jam! But your first attempts may not demand pectins.
If you are juicing your own fruit you MAY want to freeze the fruit first. Freezing allows the juice to form crystals inside the cells of the fruit and those crystals rupture the cells and so make juicing far more easy.
 

Garfield43

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BTW if all you can get is bread yeast it will work. It takes longer to settle to the bottom. My current set up is I take container of store bought juice, pour some off in to another container, add pectic enzyme and let it set an hour. Then I come back and add yeast and yeast nutrient. I put the lid back on, shake it up real good then loosen the lid so the gasses can get out and put it in my "fermentation chamber" (an ice chest with a heating pad set at 72 degrees) then wait a few weeks. When it ferments down to 1.000 I cold crash it by sticking it in the fridge over night. I then rack it (move it into another container leaving the yeast and a little bit of the cider at the bottom of the container). I cold crash the new container over night then rack it into a pitcher. There I add concentrated apple juice until I like the sweetness. From there it goes in to washed and sanitized plastic 2 liter bottles and they go into the fermentation chamber until they pressurize. Then I put those in the refrigerator.

The end result is pretty close to the hard ciders you can buy at the store but is much cheaper. The only hard to find items in the whole set up (meaning things you can't get at the grocery store) are the champagne yeast, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme. I made a batch with just bread yeast and it tasted off. Was drinkable mind you, jsut not great. Next batch was bread yeast, pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient and it tasted great, it just took a long time for the yeast to settle out. The batch I'm drinking now I made with distillers active dry yeast (DADY) and it taste fine.

For sanitation I use 1 oz of white vinegar and 1 oz of bleach mixed into 5 gallons of water. It is VERY important to add one (either bleach or vinegar) stir it up and then add the other. NEVER mix the bleach and vinegar, it will make chlorine gas. I wash everything with generic Oxi Clean mixed with Red Devil TSP substitute. There is a whole thread about how to make PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash). It explains why you would use laundry detergent and a cleaner from the hardware store.

I shared all this to show you can get started making hard cider without any fancy equipment. I am sure you can make it easier with better equipment. I am getting in to kegging for instance (I hate bottling. I did one batch in to 16 oz bottles but that was a pain,)

Good luck!
If you have any questions this forum is great.
I showed up about a month ago asking dumb questions and everyone has been very nice and patient with me and my ignorance.
 
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