So, you want to make hard cider???              



Hard cider is apple juice fermented with a yeast, typically a wine or beer yeast.  The juice you use can be fresh pressed or store bought.  Any quality juice will work, pasteurized or not.  Recipes vary from simple to more complicated.  Purchasing juice from a local farm or grocery store is the easiest and most convienent way to get started.  But, if you have access to a lot of apples and want to buy  or fabricate a grinder/press suitable to cider making you'll have no shortage of options to explore.

If you aren't going to press your own BelleWood Acres Farm located in Lynden for quality bulk juice: 

At the shop you will find many appropriate cider yeast options.  Depending on what you wish to produce, you could use a champagne yeast for a very dry finishing cider, an ale yeast for an off-dry cider which will be ready to drink in considerably less time.  You could also use our cider yeast strains of choice - Cote des Blancs, Lalvin-D-47, SAFCIDER - which are slower fermenting yeasts that will produce a more complex flavor profile.  This is a great choice if you plan to condition and age your cider for an extended period of time (anywhere from 3-4 months up to a year.)  Remember that with any yeast option, your cider will benefit greatly from some aging and careful handling.

Here are a few recipe ideas:

Note that we include Acid and Tannin additions in these recipe examples.  If you are using traditional Cider apples or lots of "wild" apple inputs these may not be needed.


Cider “Ale”

 A “draft” cider, for 5 gallons, made in traditional brewing style

· 5 gallons Fresh Cider

· 2-3 teaspoons Malic Acid (this provides tartness to give to the cider some complexity)

· 3 teaspoons of Yeast Nutrient (aids the yeast in completing a thorough fermentation)

· 5 teaspoons Pectic Enzyme

· 1 teaspoon Tannin

· Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast, or Nottingham Ale Yeast

· Primary for 2 weeks, rack to secondary, bottle when clear.  Bottle carbonated, like beer using 3/4 cup dextrose at bottling day

· Ready in about 5-6 weeks

· (Optional) Bentonite for clarity


  • Simply pour Cider into sanitized primary, and add yeast per package instructions and supporting agents listed above
  • No sulfites are required if yeast is pitched promptly
  • This is a simple Cider, especially suited to beer brewers, familiar with standard brewing techniques
  • If Cider remains cloudy Bentonite will help clarify.  Bottle condition per standard brewing procedures, allow 2-3 weeks for bottle conditioning
  • Overall this will be a off-dry to dry finish depending on your final gravity



 A very dry cider, for 5 gallons carbonated or still

· 5 gallons Fresh Cider

· 3 Crushed Campden Tablets at start of ferment  (35ppm Sulfite addition)

· 2 teaspoons Acid Blend (this provides tartness to give to the cider some complexity)

· 3 teaspoons of Yeast Nutrient (aids the yeast in completing a thorough fermentation)

· 5 teaspoons Pectic Enzyme

· 1 teaspoon Tannin

· Red Star Cote Des Blanc or Lalvin D-47 Wine Yeast

· Bottle still or Bottle carbonated, like beer.

· (Optional) Bentonite for clarity

· Ready in about 7-9 weeks



  • Simply pour Cider into sanitized primary, and add the supporting agents listed above
  • Rehydrate wine yeast per package instructions and pitch when ready
  • Allow 2-3 weeks of primary fermenting and 4-6 weeks of secondary aging
  • If Cider remains cloudy, Bentonite will help clarify
  • When Cider is completely clear and still you may bottle
  • Still dry Cider can be bottled in beer or wine bottles
  • Those who desire carbonation can use 3/4 cup dextrose at bottling day and use beer bottles
  • Allow 2-3 weeks for bottle conditioning

Overall this will be a very dry finish Cider.  Bottle aging will benefit this cider. 




A wine strength cider using honey, for 5 gallons, made in traditional winemaking style 

· 5 gallons Fresh Cider

· Honey to bring starting gravity to 1.080 (4-6#’s)

· 2-3  teaspoons Tartaric Acid (for acid complexity)

· 3 teaspoons each of Yeast Nutrient and Yeast Energizer (aids the yeast in completing a thorough fermentation

· 4 Crushed Campden tablets (for 40ppm sulfite addition to must)

· 5 teaspoons Pectic Enzyme

· 2 packages Red Star Cotes De Blanc or Lalvin D-47  Wine Yeast

· Can be bottled still or carbonated in beer bottles with 1/2 cup dextrose added at bottling in about 3-4 months.  Allow at least 1 month for bottle aging.  Cyser should age very well.


  • Pour Cider into sanitized primary, and add the supporting agents listed above
  • Heat 4-6 pounds honey to 170 degrees and carefully add to your primary
  • Rehydrate wine yeast per package instructions and pitch when ready
  • Allow 2-3 weeks of primary fermenting and 4-6weeks of secondary aging
  • An additional racking may required if significant sediment has dropped in secondary
  • If Cider remains cloudy Bentonite will help clarify
  • When Cider is completely clear and still you may bottle
  • Still dry Cider can be bottled in beer or wine bottles
  • Those who desire carbonation can use 1/2 cup dextrose at bottling and use beer bottles

Overall this will be a fairly strong 9-10% alc Cyser, off-dry and fuller bodied than lighter Ciders.  Bottle Aging recommended. Could cellar for 4-6 months.  Do not bottle too soon and use a hydrometer to confirm that final gravity has been attained.


Word.doc format of the information presented above:

Cider (67.00 kb)




  • 6-7 Gallon primary fermenter (plastic or glass)
  • 5 Gallon glass secondary fermenter
  • Racking cane and tubing for transferring and bottling
  • Hydrometer with sample tube
  • Airlocks and stoppers for fermenter
  • Bottle filler tip (attaches to racking tubing)
  • Bottle capper and caps or corker and corks
  • Funnel, Sanitizer solution, 55 12 oz Beer bottles or 25 750 ml wine bottles
  • L.C.D strip thermometer (for long term aging)


  • Yeast Choices: Beer Yeasts and Wine Yeasts
  • Malic Acid and Acid Blend
  • Yeast Nutrient
  • Tannin
  • Oak additives
  • Sulfite Agents: Campden Tablets and Potassium Metabisulfite
  • Potassium Sorbate for late sweetening
  • De-acidifying agent: Potassium Carbonate
  • Pectic Enzyme
  • Fining Agents: Bentonite, Sparkolloid, and Other Options


  • Acid Testing (Titration) Kit
  • Sulfite Testing Ampules
  • Digital PH Meter
  • Optical Refractometer


  • Multiple Nylon Mesh bags
  • Press with (Separate or attached) Grinder



More Technical notes on Cider: 



If you don’t have access to a choice of varietals, or you want to manipulate more style/flavor profiles, you can use refined agents to target specific properties.  Marginal “adjustments” can take an otherwise bland product and offer some degree of refinement. 

Common additives include:

  • Acid addition of low acid pomace:  Malic or Acid Blend (Malic Tartaric and Citric).   Low acid can be defined as T.A. acid below .60
  • Tannic additions using refined grape tannin
  • Sugar additions:  Cane sugar, Brown Sugar, Honey, and Apple concentrate.  Sugar additions of up 50% of the total Original Gravity result in “wine-like” properties. 
  • Potassium Sorbate:  A wine stabilizer when sweetening finished products.  This can only work with still (non-carbonated) bottled products.
  • Potassium Metabisulfite:  A sulfite agent used to contain wild yeast or vinegar causing bacteria (We’ll discuss this below)

In addition to your fundamental ingredient selection, the final variable is in the production process itself. These include:

Cleaning and sanitizing protocols: 

  • All equipment used in production must clean and then sanitized just prior to use
  • Brewery quality cleaning agents are recommended such as One step, Straight A, PBW wash
  • Brewery quality sanitizing agents are recommended just prior to using your hardware.  We recommend: One step, Star San or Potassium Metabisulfite
  • Sulfiting Protocols:  (for wine-style cider made with wine yeast strains)
  • Yeast Selection and fermentation dynamics
  • Aging/Storing


We won’t be discussing the use of wild or natural yeast because most home cider makers simply don’t live on cider apple farms and don’t have control over the ambient yeast population.  If your juice is pressed from a farm it may have been washed or pasteurized.  If you are picking and pressing juice from the same field over and again you could certainly entertain a wild yeast trial with a small batch, however we will be focusing on conventional winemaking and beer brewing techniques because they are both dependable and predictable.  To achieve a sterile must and you have a few options:

Option 1:
Do nothing and just pitch a bunch of healthy yeast and let them out-compete ambient yeast.  This method typically works best when:

  • Using fresh juice from a commercial farm (which maybe UV pasteurized) or at least minimally sanitized
  • Using Beer yeast for rapid start fermenting of lower alcohol Ciders which are not intended to age very long
  • Employing cold fermenting strategies with Champagne yeast or Lager (Beer) yeast

Option 2:
Heat or pasteurize juice at 168 degrees for 15 minutes to sterilize any wild yeast

This option is tedious but does get you a sterile must without S02 use.  You will still need to utilize careful sanitizing protocols throughout the aging and bottling periods to minimize later contamination.  This is essentially how beer is made.

Option 3:
The judicious use of sulfites or a winemaking approach to Cider production. 

Across the world, winemakers use sulfur dioxide (or sulfites) to achieve a sterile must and minimize potential contaminants.  Sulfites do not exactly “sanitize” instead they inhibit other yeast and bacteria.  Current genetic yeast strains are actually quite sulfite tolerant; so by using sulfites you are selectively letting your “good” yeast out compete “bad” yeast including wild yeast and vinegar causing acetobacter.  In addition sulfites have preservative (anti-oxidation) properties conducive to long-term aging.  In summary, sulfites work best for Cider use when:

  • Using conventional wine yeasts which are sulfite tolerant
  • Making products intended to age, i.e. “wine-like” Cider
  • Maximizing subtle aromatic and color properties
  • Ensuring consistency batch to batch year to year
  • Note that beer yeasts are NOT sulfite tolerent to the same extent that wine yeasts are

(Complete information on sulfite dosing is discussed in the wine section below)



The Cider style will dictate how much aging is required.  Simple dry Cider fermented with ale yeast will be the fastest to age and bottle.  High alcohol wine like Ciders made with additional sugar(s) and using champagne or other wine yeast strains will take the most time.  After active fermentation is complete (and verified by static hydrometer readings) clarification and aging begin.  Clarifying is more than cosmetic.  Yeast contributes off flavors if they are not removed from aged product.  The concept of racking implies moving clear product off sediment layers of yeast while minimizing the effects of oxidation.  Plan on racking at least 2 times for most recipes and 3 times for stronger Cider.  Fining agents can be added to speed up clarification.  Bentonite, Sparkolloid, and Gelatin are popular choices.  Pump assisted filtering through pads or canister filters is also an option.  Tips for long-term aging (say over 3-4 months) include:

  • Minimize headspace oxygen by targeting a full volume in your carboy
  • Keep airlock sealed and watered (they do evaporate over time!)
  • Use sanitary racking procedures
  • Consider maintained levels of S02 (25pp is a good buffer) for long term aged products
  • Keep temperatures consistent



Your cider is ready to bottle when:

  • Terminal gravity has been reached remained unchanged through subsequent hydrometer reading
  • Relatively good clarity and settling has occurred (This is somewhat subjective)
  • In the case of strong wine-like Cider, an (subjective) integration or mellowing of flavors has occurred

You have a choice of formats and carbonation.  This again is subjective and more or less style related.  Still Cider can be bottled in beer or wine bottles with caps or corks.  Carbonated Cider can be primed with bottling sugar and bottled in beer or champagne style bottles.  “Priming,” means adding a specific dose of sugar to a finished batch just prior to bottling.  The resulting bottle “fermentation” creates carbonation.  Dextrose is a popular choice for bottle priming because it is a simple sugar, readily converted.

Typical ratios for carbonation are ¾ to 1 cup dextrose sugar per 5 gal batch

Remember that late sweetening with potassium sorbate limits your carbonation options!

Here is a specific example of bottling 5 gallons of carbonated Cider:

  •     If Cider has a layer of sediment, rack into a clean, sanitized temporary container, if not bottle right from existing carboy
  •     Prime with dextrose sugar: ¾ cup, add sugar to 1 cup hot water, mix into target batch
  •     Prepare 55 sanitized beer bottles using Onestep, Iodine or similar santizer along with caps and capper
  •     Attach a shut off filling wand to your racking tubing to facilitate fast and clean filling
  •     Fill and cap
  •     Keep bottles at room temperatures for at least 2 weeks, then sample a bottle, you should have carbonation
  •     Once carbonated, you can Cellar store or refrigerate like any commercial product



Traditionally many high quality ciders have relied on blending to add complexity to the final product.  Blending apple inputs rather than relying on one singular apple or juice is hightly recommended.  Alternatively you could run seperate batches out and then blend via a taste trial before bottling.  Key components that contribute to overall complexity include sweetness, acidity, and tannins.  A "classic" blend is something like this:  70% sweet apples 20% higher acid apples and 10% high tannin apples.  This is a simple example, but you get the idea.  Often a blend will provide layers and depth of flavor that no single variety can offer.  A good reference for traditional blends is Cider: Making , using & enjoying sweet and hard cider, by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols.  Using tools available to measure these metrics will help.  These include:

  • Hydrometer or refractometer
  • Acid Test Kit
  • Ph Meter/Test strips

Blending can happen in the press or post fermentation.  Your assessment of the fruit could be subjective (by taste and smell) or by careful measuring (total acidity, specific gravity, color etc).


Many Cider makers want their finished Ciders to taste sweeter or more "apple-juice" like.  Here's the dilemma. Cider is really quite simple to ferment and will often finish dry (at or below a specific gravity of 1.000) since it has relativiely low alcohol and no real starch or protein component to inhibit complete conversion of sugar to alcohol (such as beer).  This will be especially true when using robust yeast strains like Red Star's Cuvee and Champagne Strains.  Some tips include:

  • Add additional sugar to boost the original gravity slightly over the yeast's tolerance
  • Stay away from "strong" yeasts, use a beer yeast or a lower attentuating wine yeast like Lalvin d-47 or Redstar Cote Des Blanc
  • Sweeten final product by using Potassium Sorbate and adding simple sugar syrup or apple juice to taste.  Note that you cannot use conventional (beer process) bottle priming for carbonation if you go this route.  You will have a still (uncarbonated) product
  • A final option:  Use an artificial sweetner at bottling
  • Reduce the relative acidity especially if an acid reveals test high acidity


Cider is in some ways like lemonade whereby a balance exists between the acidic and sweet properties based on the inputs used.  Regardless of what tricks you use it can be really difficult to get a "balanced" Cider if the juice you are using is highly acidic.  By this we mean a titret reading above .90-95 or 90%-95% when using a standard acid test kit.  Acidity can come from the specific apple variety attribute, cold growing season, early picking of unripe fruit, etc.  Here's general tips for dealing with high acid apples:

  • Use an acid test kit and get fresh chemical solutions each fall
  • Use a de-acidifying agent (potassium carbonate) to adjust (within reason) acidity
  • Incorporate sugar/water dilutions (Cyser or apple wine variations)



Picking a suitable yeast strain can seem confusing at first glance.  It’s important to have a strategy and articulate what STYLE you are targeting or what properties you desire and pick a yeast strain that will get close.  Many yeast strains are highly attenuating, meaning they readily ferment dry.  We’ll start with some generic styles for reference:

Low alc, dry Cider    Ale/Lager Yeast/Cotes Des Blanc/Lalvin D-47, M02
Relatively fast fermenting.  A good candidate for carbonation
Low alc, dry Cider cool fermenting Lager Yeast, Champagne
Slower fermenting, Less ester/phenol formation
Off-dry Cider OG: 1.050-1.070 Ale yeast/Lager Yeast/*See notes on late sweetening
Additional sugar agents will be required
Wine like, high alc, Cider Dry finish OG: 1.070-1.085

Champagne, Lalvin EC 1118, Cotes, Des Blanc, Montrachet

Long ferment, robust use of nutrients, recommended.  Room temps recommended
Wine Like high alc Sweet Cider OG:1.080-90 Cotes Des Blanc, Champagne  See previous notes on late sweetening with Potassium Sorbate
Ferment at room temps.  Nutrients recommended


More beer yeasts recommended for Cider production:  While almost all Cider authors recommend wine yeast we've been very happy with simple, straight juice Cider fermented with Ale and Lager yeast strains.  Try them!

  • Windsor and Nottingham Ale Dry Yeasts (for 60-65 degrees)
  • Safale US-05 or Safale 04 Ale Dry Yeast (for 60-65 degrees)
  • Wyeast 1056 Liquid Ale Yeast (for 59-65 degrees)
  • Safale S-23 Dry Lager Yeast (especially good for cold fermenting below 58 degrees)
  • Wyeast 2112 California Common Liquid Yeast fermented at 57-59 degrees

Important notes regarding Beer yeast and Cider:

When using Ale or Lager yeast in Cider, do not use potassium metabisulfite (or Campden tablets) at any dose over 15PPM.  Beer yeast strains are not sulfite tolerant to the same extent that wine yeast strains are.

Clafication and long term aging:

You get clear Cider by carefully racking, aging, and fining.  It's not mandatory that your probuct be crystal clear, but it does help.  The effect is more than just aesthetic.  Yeast material can decay and contribute to off-flavors.  If you are crushing and pressing start with pectic enzyme early on for later clarity.  Later fining additions include Bentonite, Sparkolloid, Chitosan, Turbo Clear, and others.  These all help sink suspended particles and speed up clarification.  Many factors determine the long term stabilty of Cider such as:

  • Sanitation
  • Sulfites (or not)
  • Alcohol level
  • Cellar temperatures
  • Oxidation

Higher alcohol Cider made more like tradtional wine (sulfites added) will be very wine-like in terms of stability and capable of aging for many years depending the factors noted above. Normal strength Cider varies from 4-6% ABV and benefits from some aging (up to 6 months or so) but can be consumed relatively young similiar to beer.  A low alcohol Cider served on draft from a home keg system is especially rewarding.  Barrel aging is yet another option.  Barrels provide two unique qualities; oak/tannin flavors and  low level oxidation or "breathing" over time.  Wine quality oak barrels are available in smaller 5/10/15gal sizes though they are fairly expensive.  New barrels (unless they have prepped to be softer) will impart strong new oak flavor within weeks of contact.  Over time subsequent batches will soften the oak effect.  By 4-6 years of use the oak will be relatively mild or "neutral" in effect.  Barrel size (or surface area contact) has a radical effect on the final outcome.  A 5 gallon barrel is far more intense than a 59 gal barrel due to this surface area ratio.  Small barrels users should consider racking out (of barrel) in shorter rotations, especially for new oak.


COMMON PROBLEMS:                  SOURCES:

Vinegar, sour-lactic-metallic-rubber taste
Poor sanitation, rough handling (oxidation) poor yeast health
Gushing bottles, blown corks
Bottling too early, terminal gravity not reached, bottled when cold, over-primed

No carbonation  Stored too cold, over sanitized
Bland thin flavor
Varietal choice, yeast choice
Sulfuric, burnt match flavor Too much S02 added
Browning, paper-like taste and color Oxidation effects, poor handling, poor storage conditions
Stuck ferment (FG: 1.025 or higher) 
Poor yeast selection, too cold, nutrient poor, OG too high


Hazy, cloudy

Use pectic enzyme early on, use fining agents, age longer, rack more carefully



The following information is geared to more generic winemaking protocols.  Cider can overlap quite a bit in process and technique, so have a look.

Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide): Potassium Metabisulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Campden Tablets

Sulfites (sulfur dioxide) inhibit wild yeast and add preservative effects to wine. When used judiciously, sulfites allow you to “sterilize” wild fruit and use the wine yeast of your choice, and produce a stable wine which holds up better over time. Sulfites are generally used 3 ways; 1) to sterilize equipment 2) to sterilize the must initially, 3) and in very small concentrations added during the winemaking process for preservative and stabilizing effects.

Please make a clear distinction between sulfites used for general sterilizing, and sulfites used at targeted concentrations (usually measured in PPM) in the wine!

When using sulfites to sterilize the must, 50-75ppm is the usual concentration. Some winemakers use the same concentration or a slightly higher concentration, but then allow the sulfur dioxide to off-gas over a 24 hour period, before adding wine yeast. Wine yeasts are tolerant of low levels of sulfur dioxide.

For late racking and/or bottling 15-25ppm is suggested. The use of sulfites is further complicated by the PH of wine; the higher the PH number, the more SO2 the wine needs to be effective. Please consult an intermediate level winemaking book for further information.  WINEMAKER magazine online provides a very handy calculator:

For a general sterilizing wash use 1 tablespoon potassium metabisulfite in 1 gallon of water. This solution can be poured into bottles, carboys and buckets and lightly rinsed out. The trace amounts of sulfite left on your equipment will be fine.  Do not store in metal containers or containers with metal lids!

Here’s a typical use of sulfites for a wine: Fermenter sterilized with sulfite rinse, 50ppm added to wine initially, wine is racked once. Rack wine a second time for clarity and maturation. Wine is racked again (third time) and then bottled with an additional 25ppm sulfite. Sanitized bottles and new corks are soaked in a weak sulfite solution at bottling time.

Don’t be afraid of using sulfites! At low levels they are very beneficial; just don’t over do the concentrations. If you have a real aversion to sulfites, you can employ some limited strategies to avoid winemaking problems.

1 campden tablet provides 50ppm SO2 in 1 gallon of water, making campden tablets easy to use. 

For high volume use powder potassium metabisulfite is much more cost effective.  Mix 1oz sulfite powder in 8 oz plastic water bottle. One teaspoon of this working solution equals 50ppm in 1 gallon.  1/4 teaspoon bulk meta in 5gal also equals 50ppm, however teaspoons are rarely that accurate!






Hard Cider is fermented Cider via natural and introduced yeast.   Yeast consumes sugar and output alcohol and C02.  Typical alcohol levels for Cider range from 3-6%.  Additional sugar can be added to increase alcohol levels resulting in more “wine-like” qualities.   Straight juice cider fermented with Beer or fast acting wine yeasts will be finished in shorter time period than stronger wine-like ciders.

Pomace is the term for ground apples ready to press.  To achieve a good press, pomace should be chipped into pieces not pulped or juiced (like with food processor). 


Any press can be used for Cider production as long as a grinder is integrated.  Because pomace tends to compact and flow poorly if overloaded some techniques can help:

o    Load the press more shallow at say 1/3 to ½ press capacity
o    Use nylon bags and press bagged pomace
o    Line the press basket with a mesh cloth bag for drainage and rapid clean-up
o    Consider water bladder presses over traditional screw presses


When yeast consumes sugar the results can be dry (all sugar is consume) off-dry (a slight amount of residual sugar remains, or sweet (a noticeable amount of sugar remains).  Besides your own taste buds, a hydrometer can be used to assess final sugar levels.  For example:
o    Dry: specific gravity at or below 1.000
o    Off Dry: 1.003-1.005
o    Sweet: 1.010 or higher

Robust yeast strains are known as highly “attenuating” meaning they readily convert sugar to alcohol. 


Must is a winemakers term for juice or pulp to be fermented. 


Esters and Phenols are aromatic and flavor compounds typically produced as a byproduct of yeast metabolism.  These qualities are acceptable at low thresholds but can produce off flavors at higher concentrations. 


Acidity is the relative taste of organic acids in fruits as citric (fruits), malic (apples), and tartaric (grapes).   Home winemakers can measure with an inexpensive acid test kit.  High acidity can be corrected with potassium or calcium carbonate.  Refined acids can be added to boost acidity.  Here are some typical measurements as expressed by acid titration:
o    High : .80-90
o    Medium: .60-.75
o    Low: .50-60




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