I make this cider all the time and it is quite inexpensive and easy to make because you don’t have to boil anything. Just add the ingredients to your fermenting barrel, pitch the yeast and off it goes.
This recipe is a base recipe and makes a sparkling dry style cider. Feel free to experiment with it to get the most out of it.
6 x 3 litre bottles of Apple juice. I have been using Woolworths (Safeway) Homebrand Apple juice until recently but couldn't find it last time. Now I am using Extra Juicy Apple juice. Just make sure the juice you use is preservative free.
1 x 850ml can of Golden Circle Pear juice (can be found in same aisle of supermarket).
1 x Saflager s-23 lager yeast.
Mix all ingredients into fermenting barrel plus 3 litres of water and pitch yeast. The starting gravity of this cider is around 1.040 and should finish at 1.000. It has an alcohol content of around 5.8 to 6%.
The Homebrand juice and the Extra Juicy juice is fine to use at they contain no preservatives, it is a long life juice and has already been heat treated. It does contain colourings and absorbic acid but these don’t inhibit the fermenting process.
I use the Saflager yeast because I like the taste of the final product. I have used champagne yeast but I find it imparts an unpleasant yeasty after taste that lingers of the taste of plain corn chips. Although this does eventually disappear with ageing.
If you can’t find pear juice, the health food aisle might have a pear juice concentrate in a 200ml bottle or use a 2 litre bottle of Just Juice Apple and Pear juice.
There are a lot of other ingredients that work well with cider, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, other juices and lactose all work well. To make a sweet cider just add 500g of lactose (bought from any homebrew shop). Lactose is a non fermentable/flavourless sugar from milk. I’ve added 8 cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks to the dry cider. This imparts a nice bubblegum aroma and taste. The same recipe with 500g of Golden Syrup will smell and taste great and knock your socks off.
I’ve made ciders that run with some very nice fruity white wines just by adding various other ingredients, so feel free to experiment and enjoy.
Like with my beer brewing I do love to experiment with my cider brewing as well, and one of the things that I have found that works really well is mashing fresh apples to your long life juice, similar to the way you would do a partial grain mash with extract beer brewing.
It's a simple as cutting up a number of apples (about a kilo is fine) and bringing them up to the boil in either some of your long life juice or some water. When the apples are soft enough mash them up. Strain all the liquid through a muslin cloth or hop bag and into your fermenter. This imparts a fresh apple flavour to your cider and allows you to also add depth of flavour. I've done this with Granny Smith apples to make a great summer dry cider.
Another option is to roast or bake your apples before mashing. For one batch I used about 2kg of Red Delicious (but any sweet apple would be fine) cut up and placed in a clean roasting tray. I baked these at about 200 C until the moisture was coming out of the apples and caramellising on the roasting tray. I then mashed as above. I also added about 400g of treacle to this cider to give a little sweetness. The colour was like a brown ale. Although the finish was dry the first flavours to hit my tongue where of sweet apple converging to a slight dry tartness.