To make your own cider you will need the following: one demijohn (a large plastic container), a bung, an airlock, a 2m siphon tube, a clip, yeast, a hydrometer, steriliser and sugar (brewing and winemaking sugar). All of the apparatus is available in a kit from the Brewstore on 61 South Clerk Street for the reduced price of £15.
You will also require 4 litres of apple juice which is not included in the kit (make sure this is from concentrate, it must not have preservatives in it). You can purchase this very cheaply from your local supermarket.
I will now highlight in a step by step process how to make your own cider, each picture refers to a particular step (e.g. Step 1 = Picture 1).
Step 1: Sterilise the demijohn, the airlock and the hydrometer. Make sure you leave the apparatus a few minutes to sterilise so that you can be sure no bacteria will ruin the fermentation process.
Step 2: Pour all of the apple juice bar one pint glass’s worth into the demijohn.
Step 3: Use the hydrometer to measure the sugar content of the apple juice in the pint glass you left aside. A hydrometer is something that measures the specific gravity of liquids, that is, the ratio of the density of the liquid to the density of water. You need to measure the specific gravity of the apple juice to determine how much sugar it contains, you do this to work out the end alcohol content of you cider as the more sugar has fermented the more alcoholic you cider will be. A reading is taken before and after fermentation and approximate alcohol content is determined by subtracting the post fermentation reading from the pre-fermentation reading. For a pre-fermentation reading you are typically looking for a reading of 1.051. So, if your cider ferments to 1.000 (which is what you are looking for), you will have a cider of 6.9%. Now pour your pint glass of cider into the demijohn with the rest of the apple juice.
Step 4: Pour the yeast into the demijohn. Make sure to shake the demijohn so that the yeast properly disperses.
Step 5: Attach the airlock to the demijohn (via the bung) and add water to the airlock (fill it halfway).
Step 6: Leave the cider for a week, preferably in a warm area although room temperature should suffice if you occasionally turn your heating on. The cider should turn a cloudy colour, see the left of Picture 6 which is what it should look like after one week, on the right is what it looks like pre-fermentation.
Step 7: Measure the sugar content of the cider again. Remember you are ideally looking for a reading of 1.000. Make sure not too much sugar is left, if it is still dropping then the cider is still fermenting and you should probably leave it for another day or so.
Step 8: Now to bottle your product, syphon your cider out into a jug avoiding the bottom of the demijohn where all the sediment is. You can choose from a wide variety of bottles in which to store your creation. Note, however, that the bottle must be very strong as carbon dioxide may continue to form once bottled and you don’t want your bottles exploding. The easiest and cheapest bottle to use is simply a plastic bottle that previously contained a carbonated drink. If you feel your cider deserves better, however, you can use old ale bottles which you can recap with new caps and a capper which you will have to buy separately of course.
Your cider is now ready to be drunk, stored or gifted, enjoy!