Cider Paradigm Shift


How long will it last in fridge?


I’ve never had it go bad because I drank it. It will get slowly more alcoholic until the alcohol kills the yeast.


Thank you now I understand. I’m going to buy some apple juice and brewers yeast next time I go shopping.


If you’re starting with unpasteurized cider, bacteria will convert the ethanol to acetic acid (vinegar). The amount of time it takes to reach obnoxious levels depends on the concentration of bacteria and temperature. The concentration will be higher if you use a lot of injured or overripe apples in the cider. I’ve had homemade cider become undrinkable within 1 week in the fridge.

From what I understand, brewers kill the bacteria before fermentation with a low dose of sterilizer/pasteurizer such as potassium metabisulfite (campden tablets). You could boil it, but that would change the flavor. They add brewer’s yeast after the sterilization process.

There could also be problem with preservatives killing the brewers yeast when using commercially pasteurized cider.


I read about making cider like this years ago in Pomona, the old NAFEX publication- only all that was involved was pressing the cider and keeping it in a root-cellar type environment in plastic bottles with pop-off lids. The writer said Alc levels were usually a bit under 3 which means I"d have to drink about a quart of the stuff to reach my “prescribed” dose.

(He would make a single batch and drink it all winter without further fuss, as I recall).

Popular ales now are generally between 5.5 and 8% Alc- I like something between 6-7. This cider-light sounds easy but wouldn’t fill the bill.

A lot of us old men don’t want to fill up on liquid before bed time.


Of course the % alcohol it reaches depends entirely on what the sugar content of the juice is. Here is a calculator for converting brix or specific gravity to potential alcohol:

With our typical blend of apples we would be in the 5-8% range. To get down to 3% alcohol you would either need to start with juice at 7 brix, add a bunch of water, or kill the yeast partway through it’s progression.

We just did our annual cidering weekend before last and for the hard cider mix we used probably about 40% Dabinett, 30% mixed dessert apples, and 30% wild or feral apples. This got us to 1.053 gravity (13.1 brix), which gives 7% potential alcohol.

For cider, if you give the yeast enough time to work to equilibrium, you get pretty close to the potential alcohol (unlike when brewing beer). Most of what makes the density higher than 1.0 is fructose, which the yeast will pretty much eat all of given time.


The great thing about making your own cider is that you can adjust it to your taste. Carbonation especially is easy to adjust. Alcohol content is 5-8% usually, but some add sugar or honey to boost the alcohol, or you could cut it at serving time with sweet cider if you want lower alcohol or more sweetness.

Also, if you have 20 or 40L of cider in the closet, your taste may shift to accommodate whatever that cider happens to be! When I started making cider I preferred something not totally dry. But fully dry is the easiest way to make it, so over a few years of drinking it I now much prefer fully dry cider.


AJ, most times the cider will ferment perfectly fine with no added yeast. I know, I have done it many times and never had a batch go bad. If you can get unpasteurized cider just put a jug in the back of the fridge with the top not completely tight and most times you will get some alcoholic cider in a month or two. To increase your odds, set up an airlock.

I also like the Woodchuck et al, its perfectly drinkable. Since I can’t drink beer I end up drinking a fair amount of it as well.

Alan, I had some of that Eves cider quite a few years ago and its was cloying. They have surely learned a lot since then, I should try their latest.



That may well be true. I was only speaking from the info I remember in the article. Maybe much of the sugar does not convert to alc using his method or maybe he had it wrong. I don’t think I misremembered something as important to me as this, but that is also possible.


And they almost certainly have a better of selection of apples to work from by now.

I would say the taste was fairly sweet, though, just as is my memory of typical cider from an English pub, but not nearly as sweet as most apple juice.


If you want more alcohol just add a can or two of frozen apple juice concentrate to the mix and leave it on the counter longer.



Why would the apple juice need to be unpasteurized since you are adding brewers yeast anyway?

Also, you mention adding a can of condensed apple juice to the mix. Would that have preservatives in it which would inhibit fermentation?

Making cider must be much easier than making wine. My daughter has made a few batches peach wine. While she has had some minor success, she’s also run into several problems. This summer I know of one customer who made 10 gal. of peach wine, but I think it turned into vinegar instead of wine. My daughter’s last batch of wine turned into vinegar. Peach wine making seems to be very finicky.

I’m puzzled why cider making is much easier than wine. Anyone have any ideas?


Olpea, I don’t know why peach wine would be any harder, but it could be due to more non-sugar things in the juice. Peach juice is almost a puree.

Re: concentrated apple juice, that does not need preservatives to prevent fermentation, there is too much sugar. Something like 25% sugar and above is too much for yeast to get going in. Its one reason why jams keep well.


I’ve tried a wine that was made from pears? All I remember is i didn’t care for it. I would drink more if someone had a cure for hangovers.


I just suggest unpasteurized because I think it tastes better. Actually most I make now is pasteurized because I have a steam juicer, but I think taste does suffer a little.The canned juice does not cause problems . A decent cider can be made of frozen apple and pear concentrate alone. I always reconstituted according to directions and then added one can extra without adding water for it. It made a little stronger flavored mix.

I used to brew beer and had to sterilize and be careful about introducing bacteria. I think by adding yeast to cider it just overpowers the random wild yeasts and bacteria. Vinegar can happen but I;ve never had it happen quickly.


I don’t care much for wine but I can tell you making hard cider is easier than brewing beer. That
s because you don’t have to brew it. Pasteurization / boiling cider may dull the flavor and aroma. You just let the campden tablets kill any wild yeast / bacteria. the hard work is growing / finding the right apples and pressing them.


I’ve never made wine before, but if you have a way to shred and press apples once you get the juice turning it into hard cider is easier than making beer.

Speaking in general with regard to brewing, there are less problems if you have very low microbiotic activity to start with, then introduce your chosen yeast and exclude all other organisms and oxygen. The usual homebrew way to do that is to sulfite the juice in a closed brewing container (sulfite action also sanitizes the inside of the container). Then introduce brewing yeast and cap with an airlock filled with ethanol or iodophor water. So my questions with the peach wine would be: did she sulfite? did she use an airlock?

Also, higher sugar content sometimes makes it hard for the yeast to get started. In that case using a starter instead of pitching yeast right on the juice makes a big difference, and a little yeast nutrient can help.

Some people of course don’t bother with that and just let nature take it’s course. Fruit is covered with yeast, so if you don’t purposely kill it, it will get to work after your crush the fruit. And this can indeed give your brew a stronger reflection of the terroir and make for more complex flavors. In fact cider makers in Normandy are required to use natural yeast fermentation. But the process has a lot more variables and can result in less predictable results. I don’t make so much cider that losing a carboy or two is not a big deal, so I stick with killing everything then putting back in the yeast I want.

Another comment on making vinegar, which is caused by acetobacter. These bacteria can only thrive in the presence of oxygen. So vinegar issues can be controlled by knocking the levels back with sulfite, excluding oxygen, and avoiding reintroduction of acetobacter (which is floating around in the air most times, in addition to being on surfaces). The yeast fermentation process generates CO2, which is denser than air, so if it gets going quickly it will push the oxygen up and out the airlock, thus making it unavailable for acetobacter. Getting the yeast to dominate quickly also tends to disadvantage other microbial action.

There are a number of books out there on cider making; the one I read first was Proulx & Nichols, but the one I read most recently and enjoyed just came out this year:

There are some sections by Steve Wood, of Farnum Hill, and the techniques used at Eve’s are covered. Though I am usually pretty happy with my cider I do feel there is room for improvement, and reading this book especially made me want to improve my abilities on tasting; identifying flavors and balance, etc. This book was available from my local library system (Minuteman Network) for any of you in the area.


Thanks for the info Holly.

On my daughter’s first batch, she used the sulfite, but thinks she introduced the cultured yeast too soon after adding the sulfite, so the cultured yeast was killed along with the wild yeast.

The last batch she made this summer didn’t turn out. She thinks the brix wasn’t high enough to feed the yeast properly. She does have air locks and all the equipment, so that’s not an issue.

I spoke with the guy the other night who tried to make 10 gal. of peach wine. He still has it, but says it doesn’t smell or taste that great. He said he talked to a guy who bottles wine commercially. That guy said peach, apple and watermelon wines are the hardest to make. Said wine made w/ grapes is much easier.

Sounds like cider making is easier than wine making, although I’m not sure how they differ in the process. Apple wine and cider do taste different though.


Here is an article emailed to me just this morning from Growing Produce (i.e. American Fruit Grower)



I would like to have a hard cider making demo on my PYO farm next October (assuming my success growing apples improves). I’m willing to spend a moderate amount of money on equipment to make the demo possible. I plan to drink the results!

Many years ago, I dropped a glass carboy and got cut by the glass, so I was considering several plastic Speidel fermenters. I liked the picture of the garbage disposal grinder you posted. Can suggest a good model with stainless blades and a stainless grinding chamber that would handle the load? I plan to use a shop press from Harbor freight, since I don’t believe my small grape ratchet type press will get the job done. This would be a lot of fun and might create some good publicity for the farm.