Quick Search For Posts On The Following Topics:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apple Cider - The Hard Way

Accidents happen.

Everything here is my account of what happened to me, or my interpretation of stuff. Every case of FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia - Pick's) is different. Keep in mind as you read this that the person who wrote this has dementia - bvFTD. That would be ME.

But - Just because I have FTD doesn't mean I can't still have some fun. Every day isn't all bad. Some days are better than others.

It is Fall in Northwestern Ohio. The air is clear and crisp, leaves crunch underfoot, and it is the time for apples, and for Apple Cider. I was going past the local apple orchard, and decided to stop in and get a gallon of fresh cider. It looked so good I purchased 2 jugs of it.

I stuck one in the refrigerator, and left the other on the kitchen counter because there was no room for it in the fridge - and that is how it all started.

The cider from the fridge was sweet, cold and delicious.

Cider & bubbler.
oops! After 2 days the cider on the kitchen counter was a little foamy. By the third day I had to loosen the cap to vent the pressure. I left the cap loose, and let it "work" for a few more days without hardly tasting it at all. It hardened up nicely, and didn't last very long. So much for the first gallon.

I have not made hard cider in about 40 years. I had a next door neighbor way back when I was in High School who had a big wooden cask in his garage. Every Fall that cask was bubbling away "working". That is where I learned how to make Hard Cider, and how I learned to carry it a little farther to make a wonderful Apple Wine. That is also when I learned to enjoy drinking it while sitting around swapping hunting stories and the like.

Carboy with last batch.
I had made a quick fermenting bubbler with a short piece of tubing, and a jar of water. I decided to actually purchase a couple commercial bubblers from the local wine-making shop. They are just easier to use, take up less space, and don't make a mess. When I was at the wine-making store I also purchased some champagne yeast which is the type recommended for making Apple Wine from Apple Cider. I got 5 gallons of Apple Cider from the orchard, and dumped it into a 5 gallon plastic water bottle with about 3 pounds of light brown sugar. I just followed the normal steps for making wine.

After about a week it stopped bubbling, so I racked it off back into the original gallon jugs the cider came in. Everyone wanted a taste, and maybe a few glasses. Most of it was gone before it even had time to completely clear and settle. Since most of 5 gallons evaporated so quickly I decided to make a little more, and to make it just a tad stronger by adding about 8 pounds of light and dark brown sugar. Search Amazon.com for Wine Making equipment

Racked off to settle and clear
This batch came out a little drier, and has a warm brownish color from the molasses in the sugar. It came out so well, that I decided to make another batch while the fresh cider was still available.

For this last batch I have added 12 pounds of sugar, and I am aiming for about 20% alcohol. This is about as high as I can expect for the champagne yeast I am using. Just for fun I also added a little ginger, clove, and cinnamon. This last batch is happily bubbling away as I write this. (Update 1: This came out too sweet for me, but VERY strong)

Update 2:
Final Best Apple Wine Recipe of 2010 (5 gallons)
5 Gallons Apple Cider with no preservatives
4 pounds Light Brown Sugar
4 Cups White Sugar
Yeast Nutrient + Pectin Enzyme + EC1118 Yeast per package instructions
Ferment... Rack as necessary... Finish, and Bottle
Back-sweeten with 2 ounces Honey + 8 Ounces Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate/Gallon for an off-dry wine which reminds me of the best Rieslings.

Other than maybe the fact that I am making apple wine in the first place  (15 gallons!) I have not noticed any major problems with my bvFTD. The process is so simple, and really can't be messed up too badly. I did do some reading on the Internet to confirm what steps I needed to take, and then just followed the directions. I re-read the directions many times, and finally found a calculator on a web page to figure out the math for how much sugar to add. Most of it was using simple kitchen skills like mixing the sugar into some cider to dissolve it before adding it to the mix. I was patient, and just took my time working at my own pace. It was fun.

It all started out as an accident. Really! Accidental Apple Wine. It sure is better than Lime Jell-O!

This first batch tastes great!
So... what's next?


Comments are welcome.

Just a quick note: Apple Cider, or just plain Cider, in the United States is non-alcoholic cloudy-looking apple juice. Hard Cider is its naturally fermented alcoholic cousin. Apple Wine has a higher alcohol content because of the special yeasts used. In most of the rest of the world the word Cider means Hard Cider with an alcohol content about like beer.


  1. Lee!!!! Loved the wine. It was just awesome. I am so glad I tried it. I bow to your expertise. Hide the bottles of it next time I come over. LoL ((huggs))

  2. Thanks for the comments Kelly and Matilda.

    There is still some left, but only about 10 gallons or so. Ya better hurry! Har!