Hard apple cider is probably one of the simplest home brewing recipes. Using store-bought apple juice makes this recipe even simpler. Best of all, homemade hard apple cider is refreshing and delicious!
Here are a few of the reasons why I prefer homemade hard apple cider to store-bought versions:
- Simple: Using store-bought jugs of juice eliminates the need to sanitize equipment. Just add the ingredients, pop in a $2 airlock and you’re done!
- Dry or sweet: I like really dry cider, so I let my cider keep fermenting until it is as dry as possible. If you like sweet cider, then stick it in the fridge early.
- Fun fruit flavors: Making apple berry cider is easy! Just use a mix of fruit juices for a fun and flavorful cider.
- Affordable: Apple juice is much cheaper than hard apple cider. And if you’re lucky enough to have an apple tree, then using your own pressed apples means that making hard apple cider is practically free!
- Sulfite-free: Store-bought hard cider contains a lot of sulfites. Even if you don’t have a sulfite allergy, you may be sensitive to the load of sulfites in commercial hard cider. This hard apple cider recipe is sulfite-free!
Newbies Start Here
If this is your first time making homemade cider or wine, then here are a few things you should know:
- This recipe can be made without added sugar or yeast nutrient, however, it won’t ferment as well. The resulting cider will be low alcohol and probably won’t carbonate with this recipe. If you want to make cider without added sugar, here’s my simple fruit juice cider. It doesn’t require sugar or yeast nutrient.
- I recommend getting a hydrometer. They are only about $20 and will help you measure the sugar levels and tell you when your cider is ready for bottling.
- Sanitizing the bottles isn’t required, however, it is the best way to prevent your cider from going off. Here’s a whole post on how to sanitize for cider and wine.
- Want more information on making cider and wine? Here’s a basic overview of everything you need to know to make cider at home.
Hard Apple Cider From Juice
Using store-bought apple juice is the easiest way to make hard apple cider. This simple recipe is so delicious and easy that it’s perfect for beginners. Best of all, homemade apple cider is sulfite-free!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 gallon 1x
- Category: Alcohol
- Cuisine: British
- Diet: Vegan
- Be sure to sanitize anything that is going to touch the cider. If you are fermenting in a store-bought jug of apple juice, then you will only need to sanitize for racking and bottling.
- Remove 1/2 cup of juice from the jug. This will leave enough room to prevent the fermentation from bubbling over. I recommend testing the sugar content of your apple juice using a hydrometer. It needs to be at least 1.050. Feel free to add up to 1 cup of sugar, as needed. This will increase the potential alcohol content and/or sweeten the cider.
- Add the yeast and yeast nutrient. Put the cap back on the bottle of juice and give it a good shake to mix everything up. Remove the lid and top the bottle with an airlock.
- If you are using unfiltered apple juice, then you will need to rack the cider to a clean jug after 1 week. If you are using filtered apple juice, then racking isn’t necessary.
- Allow the cider to ferment for 2-4 weeks (1-3 weeks after racking) before bottling. Exactly how long you leave the cider to ferment will depend on your personal taste. If you like sweet cider, bottle it after 2 weeks. Wait 4 weeks for a dry cider.
- To prime the carbonation, mix 2 Tbsp of white sugar or dextrose in 1/4 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the sugar water to the cider just before bottling.
- Leave the bottled cider to ferment at room temperature for another 5 to 10 days, until it is carbonated. Store the cider in the fridge and enjoy it within 2 months. Because this recipe is a sulfite-free recipe the cider is not shelf-stable and it will continue to ferment, even in the fridge. So if you like sweet cider, drink it within 1 month.
- If you are using homemade apple juice, you will need to pasteurize it to prevent contamination from wild mold, yeast, and bacteria. To pasteurize the juice, bring it to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then pour into the fermenting jug and allow to cool to just above room temperature before adding the yeast.
- Don’t use apple juice that contains additional sugar, preservatives, or additives. All you want on the label is juice and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
- Don’t use juice made from concentrate.
- Feel free to use juice that is a mix of apples and berries. Avoid citrus, bananas, and tropical fruits which don’t ferment as nicely. (They tend to make the yeast become stringy, which isn’t very pleasant).
- A hydrometer isn’t necessary, however, it’s the easiest way to test how much sugar is in the apple juice and when it is ready for bottling. Otherwise, you can just guestimate using the recipe.
- I like to use brown sugar, which adds a depth of flavor, however, white sugar is fine as well.
- Be sure to use bottles that can handle the buildup of carbonation. Either plastic pop bottles or flip-top beer/cider bottles. Test for carbonation by squeezing on a plastic bottle or popping open one of the flip-top bottles.