I know a lot of people who make wine, cider and beer in their closets. I naturally gravitate to those who are seriously into DIY culture. This simple fruit juice cider was my first attempt at home brewing, and it’s still one of my favourites recipes.
A Simple Recipe
Normally alcohol production requires sterilization, precision and large vats of fermenting liquids. Depending on what you want to make, it also involves a small chemistry set of sulfite, 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 can be found for cheap at most winemaking stores.)
There are only a few tips and tricks for making hard fruit juice cider:
- Add the packet of yeast directly to the bottle of juice, so you don’t have to worry about sterilization.
- Make sure the juice is preservative-free (see the example below.) Preservatives will either stop the yeast or slow down the fermentation.
- Use juice that comes in a glass jar because metal, plastic or wax interiors might deteriorate during the fermentation. If you want to use tetra pak juice, then transfer it to a very clean 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 real fruit juice hooch by using a balloon with a single pinhole pricked in it. The pinhole will allow CO2 to escape without letting anything in. Just be sure to wash the balloon well to get rid of the talc.
Bottling Fruit Juice Cider
The recipe provides the simplest method for finishing fruit juice cider. That’s because the recipe was written for beginners, who might not have the sanitation supplies nor bottles for proper bottling.
Simply putting the cap back on the juice bottle will work! However, it won’t allow the cider to fully carbonate.
Here are the additional steps required to prime and bottle the fruit juice cider. If you want more details about any of these steps, read more about them in my basic homemade cider how-to guide.
- Prime the carbonation by mixing a 1/8 cup of white sugar in 1/4 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Then mix the sugar-water into the cider.
- Use either flip-top beer bottles or plastic pop bottles. Sterilize the bottles and the siphon.
- Fill the bottles, leaving all sediment at the bottom of the juice jug.
- Bottled cider will need to ferment at room temperature for another 1-2 weeks until it is carbonated. Then store the cider in the fridge and enjoy within 2 months. Because this recipe 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, drink it within 1 month.
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 for this type of homemade alcohol.
- 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% fruit juice (preservative-free)
- 1/4 tsp champagne yeast (1/4 package)
- 3 tbsp sugar (optional, see notes)
- Pour 2 oz of juice out from the bottle (to prevent overflow during the fermentation process).
- Sprinkle the yeast into the juice bottle. The yeast should start to hydrate and activate immediately.
- Top the bottle with an airlock. Agitate the bottle slightly to make sure the yeast is mixed in.
- Place the bottle somewhere dark to ferment for 3 to 5 days. A closet or a kitchen cupboard is perfect.
- After 5 days, remove the airlock and replace the original cap. Alternatively, bottle the cider for a proper finish and carbonation. See the section above for more details.
- 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 and tastes good. This is really a matter of personal preference, so taste it every 2-3 days. It will become less sweet and more alcoholic as time goes on.
- Choose clear fruit juices, like grape, apple or pear. Don’t try this recipe with orange juice or pineapple juice because it causes the yeast to become stringy and it won’t ferment as well.
- Without any added sugar, the maximum alcohol content of most juices is around 3%. Adding sugar increases the potential alcohol content. For example, adding 3 tbsp of sugar will increase the alcohol levels to around 5%. However, the original sugar content of your juice will also make a difference.
- If you don’t add sugar, cap the juice after 3 days to ensure you have enough sugar to carbonate the drink. Otherwise, let it ferment for 5 days.
- If you want a dry, wine-like hooch, keep fermenting until the airlock stops bubbling. The resulting hooch won’t be sweet or carbonated.
- See the section above for information on how to ferment using a balloon instead of an airlock.
Keywords: alcoholic, quick, easy, cider, wine, grape, cranberry, pear, apple, pomegranate, hooch, spring, summer, fall, vegan, gluten free, cheap, affordable