Take a gert dollop of apples…
As a cider or perry drinker, you don’t need to know how it’s made! But it’s nice to know… We can even give you some ideas about make your own; it’s not that difficult!
This section of the website deals with how to make cider and perry:
- Making Cider – see below
- Making Perry – Gillian Grafton’s in-depth article about making perry
- Cider & Perry Recipes – a collection of cider and perry recipes
- Presses & Mills – a collection of plans for cider mills and cider presses
- Storing cider – advice on suitable containers to keep draught cider in, and how to keep it in good condition over a period of time
- Selling cider – advice on selling your homebrewed cider or perry
Here’s a quick summary of the basic traditional process for cider making:
Harvest the apples
Usually done during the late autumn / early winter in the UK, depending on the weather and apple varieties. Although not essential, many cidermakers leave the apples in storage for a week or two after harvesting to improve the quality of the juice.
Crush the apples
The apples are usually sorted (to remove any bad fruit), then crushed or milled into a pulp or pomace. This is difficult to do without suitable mechanical equipment, as apples are hard to crush effectively by hand.
Extract the juice
The apple pulp has to be pressed to extract the juice. To do this, some of the pulp is made up into a sort of parcel, often called a cheese, made by wrapping some of the pomace in a cloth and forming it into a (usually) flattish rectangular slab shape. Depending on the size and type of press, several cheeses are typically made on top of each other on the bed of the press. There are several types of press, but they all work on the same principle, i.e. to exert pressure on the apple pulp to squeeze out the juice. Some traditional cider makers still use hand powered screw presses, but many others use hydraulic or electric powered presses. And no doubt someone out there still uses steam power or horse power! Pulp may be pressed more than once to extract the maximum amount of juice.
Ferment the juice
Traditionally, the juice is collected as the pulp is pressed and poured or pumped into large fermentation vessels, such as wooden vats or casks, and left to ferment naturally. No yeast is added, and the wild yeasts naturally present on the fruit do the job! Fermentation is usually done at a low temperature and is a slow process compared to brewing beer, typically taking several weeks.
Mature the cider
After completion of fermentation the cider is racked into storage vessels, e.g. casks and allowed to mature. It will keep for a year or more, but can be drunk sooner.
Drink the cider
That’s where we cider drinkers come in, so get your cider mugs ready…
The above is a basic simple description of the process and there are many variations among different cidermakers.