Apples, apples, and more apples! November of 2018 was our year for making gallons of hard cider. Fifty-two gallons, to be exact. We had so many apples that year. It was crazy. After baking and freezing pies and making other apple dishes, we decided that hard cider was going to be our new project.
We rented the crushing and juicing equipment from a local brew store and bought all of our buckets we needed to hold the juice in while it fermented. It took us an entire Saturday washing, crushing, juicing, and cleaning up the mess from the apples. It was a lot of work and so much fun!
As most new things go, it took us a bit of time to understand the process. But, once we got in a rhythm, the juice was steadily flowing into our buckets. The buckets were placed in our garage for a few weeks, and when it got too cold, we moved them inside.
There was a process once we had juiced the apples. First, we had to add crushed Campden tablets and yeast to the juice. A few weeks later, we added flavorings. Flavorings are not necessary; we just thought it would be fun to experiment. We had fifty-two gallons, so why not be creative? We added cinnamon sticks, orange zest, and cloves to some of the buckets. To others, we added apple juice concentrate, which gives it a little extra sugar content and accentuates the apple flavor.
For about three months, we tested the cider, added brown sugar to some to increase the alcohol content, and patiently waited until it tasted good enough to drink.
I absolutely love what we created. If you are looking for a super sweet hard cider, this is not it. If you want more of an authentic hazy hard apple flavor with a hint of orange or cinnamon, then you will enjoy what we made.
I highly suggest if you like hard cider to give the brewing process a try. We learned a lot, and it was a fun project to do together. Unfortunately, 2019 was not the year for apples. We got an early freeze that killed our fruit. Thankfully, we still have plenty of cider to drink this year. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we have another record apple season so that we can do our home brewing again and experiment with some other creative flavors to add to our apples.