Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not So Hard Cider

I'm glad to see that hard cider is catching on again, nowhere more so than in my kitchen. It's by far the easiest homebrew, requiring no special ingredients or equipment and almost no effort. And if you start with good cider, the end result will be just as delicious (and intoxicating) as the $12-a-bottle variety.

The only trick is finding a cider that doesn't have preservatives. If it's been pasteurized, it should still work, but if you can find one that has not been, all the better.

In the past I've let cider go pretty far, allowing most of the sugar to be consumed by the natural yeast to yield a strong, crisp, dry brew. But lately I've been much more into half-fermented cider. I drink it sooner, as a bubbly, tangy, naturally carbonated sort of apple soda. The above photo doesn't quite do it justice, because in real life the stuff has a head like beer.

Maybe it's those friendly, naturally occurring yeasts, but I swear it has a tonic effect in the old fashioned sense of the word. This is the kind of food prep where you "let" rather than "do."


Recipe: Homemade Hard Cider

Acquire cider without preservatives, and ideally without pasteurization.

Pour it from its plastic container into something glass, like a large mason jar or empty wine bottle.

Cover the neck of the container with a piece of cloth and a rubber band. A snip from an old (clean) T-shirt makes a particularly fine barrier for dust and fruit flies.

Let sit until it has reached the desired level of fermentation. About a week for the tangy, natural apple soda, two to three for booze.

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