What do you do with a gallon of cider that is going to go bad in a day? You could either drink it now or turn it into alcohol and drink it later. I’d had my fill of fresh cider for a little while after the pressin’ party of the weekend, plus I really wanted to try to make hard cider.*
I bought a bottle of Carlos Rossi and put the wine in two half-gallon mason jars to be used for cooking at a later date. I got a rubber plug, a thing called an airlock that lets some carbonation out so the whole thing doesn’t explode, and some champagne yeast.
I read you should heat your cider to 160 degrees F and cook it there for 40 minutes to kill off wild yeast, so I did. Ever since getting a my first Lego set, I’ve been good at following written directions, especially ones with pictures. It was pain to keep the temperature steady, I had to keep jumping up when my digital thermometer (originally intended for meats) kept sounding its alarm.
The hot stuff then got put into the empty jug, along with half a cup of sugar (which apparently is a faux pas in some circles, none of which I belong to, however) and some yeast nutrient. I shook vigorously as instructed, then let it cool down to 110 degrees F. It was the reverse of watching water come to a boil and took way too long.
I proofed the yeast in some warm water, then in it went. After about an hour I started to get bubbles rising up, the first sign of fermentation! It’s been two days now and it is roaring. If everything goes as planned, I should have some hard cider by Thanksgiving.
*I had neat pictures of this process, but I formated my camera’s memory card because I’m an idiot.