Gretchen and I have been growing our own apples for years now. We bought a cider press a few years back and have been making ourselves sweet cider every fall. As I get back into home brewing, after a fourteen year hiatus, I thought I would try a hard cider. I decided to go for a medium-dry, petillant English cider. This is my first attempt at a hard cider.
Here is my recipe:
- 2 bushels Apples from several varieties
- White Labs English Cider Yeast (WL775)
- ½ teaspoon plus a pinch Wyeast Nutrient Blend
- 5 Campden Tablets
- 2 pounds Lactose (Milk Sugar)
- 0.75 ounces Malic Acid
- 0.25 ounces Wine Tannins
- 5 ounces Corn Sugar (for priming)
- Pick the apples and allow them to sit at cellar temperature for one week.
- Press the apples. You should end with something in excess of 5 gallons of juice. Measure the Brix and Gravity of the juice. Mine turned out to be 13.6/1.054 this year.
- Make a starter by mixing 1 quart of juice with a pinch of yeast nutrient and bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 72°F. Place in a suitable container. I used a half-gallon growler. Shake to aerate. Pitch yeast. Affix an airlock. Ferment at 72°F for 2 days.
- After pressing, place the juice in a bucket. Add 5 crushed Campden Tablets (one per gallon). Affix an airlock. Allow to sit at cellar temperature for 2 days.
- Vigorously stir the juice to disperse any remaining Sulfur Dioxide gas resulting from the Campden tablets. Transfer the juice to a 6½-gallon glass carboy. Add ½-teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Rock to aerate. Pitch the yeast starter. Affix an airlock. Ferment at 72°F for 4 weeks.
- Measure the Brix and Gravity of the cider. Mine turned out to be 5.3/1.001 (7% ABV) this year. Rack the cider to a 5-gallon glass carboy and allow to mature at 72°F for 8 weeks.
- Mix the lactose, malic acid, tannin, and corn sugar in 5 pints of water and bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 72°F.
- Add the mixture to the bottling bucket. Rack the cider to the bottling bucket. Bottle. Allow the cider to bottle condition at 72°F for 3 weeks before sampling.
Just for fun I measured the gravity after back-sweetening with the lactose. It brought it back to 1.014, which would be about as sweet as a typical finished ale.