The last decade has seen enormous growth in cider’s popularity in the United States. This newfound taste for sweet and hard cider harkens back to the 19th and 18th centuries, when cider was ubiquitous across the country.
When making cider of your own, keep in mind that many variables will effect your final product, including the apple varieties used, their ripeness, acidity, and sweetness, the temperature, and much more.
According to Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols’ famous 1980 book Cider, there are eight steps in the overall process:
Step 1: The Harvest
“Use sound ripe apples of several varieties to make a balanced cider blend.”
Step 2: Sweating
“When the apples have mellowed and softened to
the point where a good firm squeeze leaves finger
impressions on the fruit – about a week to
ten days – they are ready for grinding.”
Step 3: Washing
“Wash the apples to remove leaves, twigs,
harmful bacteria, insects, and any spray residues.”
Step 4: Grinding
“It is important to grind, crush, or mill the apples
to a fine pulp to extract the maximum amount of juice.”
Step 5: Pressing
“The cider press exerts pressure on the
milled apple pulp until all the juice has
flowed from the ruptured fruit cells.”
Step 6: Blending
Ciders from tart, neutral, astringent, and aromatic
apples are blended before grinding, before fermentation, or
after fermentation for a well balanced flavor.
Step 7: Testing
“It is important to know the sugar and
acid levels in the fresh juice.”
Step 8: Fermentation
“the process in which simple sugars are converted
into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the growth
of certain yeasts when conditions are right.
The following books and articles can be helpful for anyone making their own cider. There are also ample videos found online that can be very educational. Some of the books listed are available in the Ralston Cider Mill’s library and archive collection, which can be accessed by appointment.
Online and in-person courses in cider making are available through the Cider Institute of North America. Click here to visit their webpage.
Cider, by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols, 1980
The Cider Makers’ Handbook, by J.M. Trowbridge, 1915
The Complete Practical Distiller, by Dr. M. La Fayette Byrn, 1880
A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees, by William Coxe, 1817
The New Cider Maker’s Handbook, by Claude Jolicoeur, 2013
Cider, Hard and Sweet, by Ben Watson, 2013