Fruit juice cider was my first attempt at home brewing. It’s a sparkling and flavorful hard cider that is so easy to make that it is still one of my favorite recipes. All that is required is a bottle of juice and a packet of yeast!
Normally homebrewing requires sanitation, precision, and a large fermentation vat. Depending on what you want to make, it also involves a small chemistry set of sulfites, pH testing strips, a hydrometer, etc.
This simple recipe for fruit juice cider only requires a bottle of juice and a packet of Champagne yeast (which is available at most winemaking stores).
Tips and Tricks for Brewing In a Juice Jug
There are only a few tips and tricks for making fruit juice cider:
- Add the packet of yeast directly to the bottle of juice, so you don’t have to worry about sanitization.
- Make sure the juice is preservative-free, and not from concentrate. Preservatives will slow down the fermentation.
- Use juice that comes in a glass jar because metal, plastic, or wax interiors may deteriorate during fermentation. If you want to use Tetra Pak juice, then transfer it to a sanitized bottle for fermenting.
- It’s important to keep out unwanted yeasts and bacteria. Airlocks are cheap and easy, just buy a bung that fits the juice jug (see below).
- Alternatively, you can make fruit juice hooch by using a balloon with a single pinhole pricked in it as an airlock. The pinhole will allow CO2 to escape without letting anything in. Just be sure to wash the inside of the balloon first to get rid of the talc. (I used a balloon my first time, but I’ll admit a $2 airlock is definitely nicer).
How to Bottle Fruit Juice Cider
This recipe provides the simplest method for finishing fruit juice cider. That’s because it’s designed for beginners, who might not have the sanitation chemicals, bottles, or siphon necessary for bottling.
Simply putting the cap back on the juice bottle will work! However, it won’t allow the cider to fully carbonate as it won’t have an air-tight seal.
Here are the additional steps required to prime and bottle the fruit juice cider. If you want more details about any of these steps, check out my basic cider how-to guide.
- Use either flip-top beer bottles or plastic pop bottles that can handle the carbonation.
- Start by sanitizing the bottles and the auto-siphon.
- Prime the carbonation by mixing 2 Tbsp of white sugar in 1/4 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Then mix the sugar water into the cider.
- Using the siphon, fill the bottles, leaving all the sediment at the bottom of the juice jug.
- The bottled cider will need to ferment at room temperature for another 1 week until it is carbonated.
- Test carbonation by either squeezing plastic bottles or popping the lid on glass bottles. Once it’s carbonated, store the cider in the fridge.
- Because this is a sulfite-free recipe the cider is not shelf-stable and will continue to ferment, even in the fridge. So if you like sweet cider, finish drinking it within 1 month. Otherwise, enjoy it within 2 months.
Simple Fruit Juice Cider
It’s easy to make cider from a bottle of fruit juice. This simple recipe results in a sweet and sparkling hard cider that is so much better than Grandpa’s hooch. All you need is a bottle of juice and a packet of yeast!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 gallon 1x
- Category: Beverage
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1 gallon of 100% clear fruit juice (preservative-free)
- 1/4 tsp champagne yeast (1/4 package)
- 3 Tbsp sugar (optional, see notes)
- Pour 2 oz of juice out of the bottle (to prevent overflow during fermentation).
- Follow the instructions of the packet of yeast and add it to the juice jug. (Some require prehydrating, others can be added right away).
- Add the sugar, then cap the bottle with an airlock. Agitate the bottle slightly to make sure the yeast is mixed in. (See the section above for advice about using a balloon instead of an airlock).
- Place the bottle somewhere dark to ferment for 3 to 5 days. A closet or a kitchen cupboard is perfect.
- After 5 days the bubbling in the airlock should have slowed down.
- Remove the airlock and replace the original cap. Alternatively, bottle the cider for proper carbonation. See the section above for details on how to bottle homemade cider.
- Store the jar in the fridge to finish fermenting.
- Every few days open the cap to release the build-up of pressure in the bottle. The cider is finished when it is sparkling. The cider will become less sweet and more alcoholic as time goes on. So taste it every 2-3 days, and enjoy it when the flavor is to your liking.
- Choose clear fruit juices, like grape, apple, or pear. Don’t try this recipe with orange juice or pineapple juice because these juices cause the yeast to become stringy and unappetizing.
- Without any added sugar, the maximum alcohol content of most juices is around 3-6%. Adding sugar increases the potential alcohol content. For example, adding 3 Tbsp of sugar will increase the alcohol levels to around 5-10%. However, the original sugar content of your juice will also make a difference. The best way to determine how much sugar to add is to use a hydrometer to measure potential alcohol content.
- If you don’t add sugar, cap the juice after 3 days to ensure you have enough natural sugars to carbonate the drink. Otherwise, let it ferment for 5 days.
- If you want a dry, wine-like beverage, keep fermenting until the airlock stops bubbling. The resulting beverage won’t be sweet or carbonated.
- I haven’t provided nutritional information for this recipe because it will depend on the type of juice and how long it is fermented. Homemade cider will range from very sweet, not at all sweet depending on when you decide to drink it.
Keywords: alcoholic, quick, easy, cider, wine, grape, cranberry, cherry, pear, apple, pomegranate, hooch, spring, summer, fall, vegan, gluten free, cheap, affordable