Apple cider is simply the juice of pressed apples. It differs from apple juice in that it contains apple solids suspended in the juice. There are two types of apple cider; sweet cider and hard cider. Sweet cider is simply the unfiltered juice of pressed apples. Hard cider is the fermented, unfiltered juice of pressed apples. There are also sub-varieties of hard cider.
Cider has a long history. It has been around pretty much as long as apples as it is very easy to make. It has been reported that when the Romans entered England in 55 BC, they found villagers consuming a drink made from apples that was cider-like. Its popularity throughout Europe grew resulting in most estates maintaining their own orchards for the purpose of making cider. Eventually it was "exported" to America when apple seeds were brought by early English settlers.
About making sweet cider
You should only use apples that have not been on the ground. Apples that have been on the ground are more likely to carry bacteria and be over-ripe. Apples for cider do not have to be perfect. If they have blemishes you can simply cut away the bruised or damaged part. Do not use spoiled or rotten apples. One bushel (42 lbs) of apples will make about 3 gallons of cider.
Apple cider can be made from a single type of apple but is more typically made from a blend of apples to balance the sweetness and tartness of the juice. There are 4 primary categories of flavors to consider when selecting apples for cider. They include:
Cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Dropped apples are likely to contain some pretty mean and nasty bacteria, such as E. Coli, Salmonella and Cryptosporidiosis. All things that you definetly do not want in your cider. Do not use dropped apples. Further, washing and sanitizing are not the same thing. You can wash the equipment and fruit until you are soggy yourself, but if you do not sanitize you will introduce bacteria into your cider. So be sure to follow all cleaning recommendations and storage considerations.
- "Sweet subacid. This group includes apples that are grown primarily for eating fresh. It usually makes up the highest percentage of apples used in a blend. Examples of varieties in this group include Red Delicious, Rome, Grimes Golden, Cortland, Fuji, Jonagold and Empire.
- Aromatic. Apples in this group are characterized by outstanding aromas, flavors and fragrances that are carried over into the cider. Examples include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Gala.
- Mildly acid to slightly tart. Apples in this group add tartness or tang to the cider. Varieties include Winesap (including Stayman), Jonathan and Granny Smith.
- Astringent. This group provides the tannins for special taste. Crab apples are the primary ones found in this group. Varieties from this group are not always used in the cider."
~University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension
How to make sweet cider
- Enough bottles or jugs for your finished cider.
- No-rinse sanitizer. There are several no-rinse sanitizing agents which you can buy at almost any home brewing/winemaking store that will make cleaning much easier. Alternately, you can use a solution of 1 ounce chlorine bleach (such as Clorox) to a gallon of water to help destroy bacteria, but you must thoroughly rinse each item twice to remove all traces of the bleach.
- A clean muslin bag or even a pillowcase can be used for your "must bag".
- A food chopper, processor or blender or other smashy-smashy type machine or implement. This will be used to pulverize the fruit. The finer the fruit is ground the more juice you will get out of the fruit, so take this into consideration when selecting your equipment.
- Clean. Clean and then clean some more. Sanitize all of your bottles and equipment. Wash the fruit in a weak bleach solution that is 10 degrees warmer than the apples. The temperature difference is important it will help to prevent the apples absorbing the solution. Then rinse thoroughly with water at least twice.
- Core and quarter the apples, then put them into your processor/blender/smashy-smashy apparatus and pulverize the fruit. This will break the cell walls of the fruit, releasing the juice.
- Put the mushy remains of fruit into your muslin sack and press the juice out. Collect this juice and put it into the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. Let sedimentation occur.
- Once the sediment has settled, its time to bottle your cider into your clean jugs. You can use a length of flexible tubing to siphon off the cider into bottles or you can very gently pour your cider into bottles or jugs.
- Your homemade cider contains no preservatives so it should be treated like milk and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Alternately, you can freeze the cider, but be sure to leave space at the top of your bottle for expansion.
- Now, revel in the feeling you've achieved while making your cider and enjoy a cold (or warm with a little bit of spiced rum) glass of your cider.
Hard Cider info is coming soon from a noder near you.
History of Apple Cider - http://www.drinkfocus.com/apple-cider/history-of-cider.php
Making Apple Cider - www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/PDF/FDNS-E-91.pdf
Home Apple Cider Production - www.utextension.utk.edu/publications/spfiles/SP307-O.pdf