Frugal Friday: Cider

Today’s Frugal Friday post is a quick, easy, and cheap way to make your own cider.

Here’s what you will need to get started:

  • 1 gallon of preservative-free apple juice. Check the ingredients. If there is anything in it other than apple juice and citric or absorbic acid, find a different brand.
  • 1 gallon of spring (not purified) water. (Not necessary if the apple juice comes in a 1-gallon jug)
  • 1 bag of organic granny smith apples (Organic is necessary to ensure that the natural apple yeast is alive)
  • 1 balloon
  • 1 pin or needle

When you’ve got everything together, dump out the water. Remove the apples from the bag and peel them. Do not wash them beforehand. Place all the peelings in the empty gallon jug. Next, fill the jug with juice to about 1″ from the mouth. Use the needle or pin to poke a hole at the top of the balloon, and then place the balloon over the mouth of the jug. Set the jug on the counter where it will be out of the way.

In 1-2 days you will notice that the balloon is standing upright and there are bubbles rising in your juice. From this point, count off one week. If you want to vary the alcohol content of your cider, you can increase or decrease this time on your second batch. Your first batch, you are going to brew for one week, because I said so.

When the week is up, remove the balloon and very carefully pour your cider into a different container. There will be a large amount of yeast sitting at the bottom, and you want to leave this as undisturbed as possible. Your cider is now ready to drink, but ideally ought to be chilled in the fridge first. The last pint or so of cider, containing all the yeast, you will pour off into a third container. To the yeast dregs add about a teaspoon of sugar, and then place it in the fridge as well.

When you are ready to make your second batch, remove the yeast dregs, shake it up to distribute the yeast, and place about 1/2 of a cup of the dregs in your gallon jug. Add juice to about 1″ from the mouth, and place a punctured balloon on as before. You do not need the peelings the second time because the point of the peelings is to provide yeast, and you now have a supply of yeast from the dregs. Pour about 1/2 of a cup of the fresh juice into the dregs, and place it back in the fridge for next time. Again, wait for the balloon to stand up, and then count off a week and your cider will be ready.

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