Last winter I made hard cider. A family member gave me four gallons of apple juice that was frozen after being pressed earlier that fall. Payment for the free juice was a stake in the finished product. I researched how to make hard cider and was surprised to learn how easy it was compared to brewing beer.
Dump the apple juice into the fermenter, add yeast, seal and come back in a few weeks. Depending on the original gravity, you may want to add some honey to boost the sugars. The fermentation does throw off some strong sulfur-like odors, so make sure you keep that in mind when selecting the location where the cider will be fermenting.
Hard cider takes much longer to fully cure in the bottle. It is due to the strong flavors from the juice, which takes quite some time to mellow out. I did sample a bottle or two out of curiosity two weeks after bottling and it was indeed bitter. Three months after bottling, however the cider was approaching its prime. It is now seven months after bottling.
The cider is so good that I feel like it deserves to be served in a champagne flute. My beer mug will do just fine, though. I put it in the freezer earlier in the day so that I could have a frosty mug.
I’m now planning for this fall. Calendars in our area say that early apples begin to be harvested August first. I’ll post again soon to tell you how I’m preparing.