Notes on Hard Cider Making

Add the cider to a primary fermenter with plenty of head space (don’t fill more than ¾ full). We recommend that you add ¼ teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite per 5 gallons of cider at this point to prevent your cider from spoiling or turning to vinegar. Add the sulfite by measuring out the powder, dissolving it in a little warm water, and then stirring it into the cider. You should add this same amount each time you rack (siphon) your cider.

You may add sugar to increase the specific gravity (and the final alcohol content) of your cider. If you choose not to add sulfite, the specific gravity should be over 1.060 to reduce the chance that your final cider will spoil. 1 gallon of juice can be raised 5 degrees or .005 on the specific gravity scale by adding 2.25 oz. of granulated sugar. 9 oz. of sugar is approximately 1 rounded cup and will raise 1 gallon of juice .020 degrees specific gravity.

No crab or highly tannic apples are added to our any of our blends, so you may want to add 1 tsp. of tannin per 5 gallons (optional).

Before adding your yeast, allow the cider to reach room temperature (at least 65 deg F), and make sure it has been at least 3 hours since you added the sulfite. Add 1 packet of yeast for each 5 gallons. You can use a fresh liquid cider yeast from Wyeast or White Labs, or a white wine, mead, ale or lager yeast. If using dry yeast, sprinkle it evenly across the surface of the juice. Do not stir. Add the lid loosely to the fermenter or attach an airlock (partially filled with water) and seal the lid. Primary fermentation should begin in 24-36 hours and should finish in 5-9 days.

After the fermentation slows down, you should rack the cider into a clean carboy and attach a stopper and an airlock. While bulk aging cider, the carboy should always be filled close to the top (~ 1″ from the stopper). Secondary fermentation will now occur, and can take up to 30 days. You will know it is done when the carbon dioxide gas bubbling through the airlock stops. At that point you may rack the cider off the sediment into a clean carboy and add more sulfite. Cider generally benefits from bulk aging for an extended time period, but you can finish and bottle as you see fit.

Ask us for more information if you’d like your hard cider to be either sweet or sparkling.

We have a great book on cider making that can provide you with more information and recipes: Cider-Making: Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols.

Education, Mead & Cider Info


  1. Libby Cone says:


    Last year, you had a different cider recipe. It still called for upping the o.g. to 1.060, but it also included apple juice concentrate. I think I have all the details in my notebook, but do you have the original recipe? I made it with Wyeast Sweet Cider and Mead yeast 4184 last year and it was outstanding.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I had a quick question. I started a 2 gallon batch of pasteurized cider about 9 days ago. I used pectic enzyme, yeast nutrients, and EC-118 for my yeast. The cider was not up to 68 degrees when I pitched my yeast so the ferment was VERY sluggish. My cider started with an OG of 1.042 and 10.1 brix. After 3 days I had no activity so I created a yeast starter and pitched that along with a little more nutrients. I am on day 9 and my brix level is only down to 7 and an adjust SG of 1.020 with only 2.8% ABV.. I assume it should be close to done, but that’s extremely low on the ABV and brix. Am I just being impatient or is there something I should do? It stays at a temperature range between 64 and 70 degrees F. Thanks!

    • Keystone says:

      Hi Jeremy –
      At this point, it sounds like the cider is still fermenting (even if it is going slowly).

      Fermentation can take anywhere from just a few days to a couple of weeks. If possible, try to keep the temperature of the fermenting cider as consistent as possible and try to keep it on the warmer side if possible.. As long as it is actively fermenting, just give it time. If, after about 3 weeks or so, it hasn’t finished you can try racking it into another clean vessel. Sometimes just moving it is enough to start fermentation back up if its not finished. Also, I would not add any additional nutrients to this batch.

    • Bro Sephus says:

      I’m new to this, but it’s definitely important to make sure your juice is free of antibiotics (preservatives, etc). If you’ve got store-bought juice and it has ingredients to prevent microbes from growing, it’s going to be hard to get your fermentation going. I nuked a mason jar with water until boiling, waited until it was about body temp, added yeast, waited maybe half an hour until room temp, shook, got distracted for a few hours, then added it to Trader Joe’s apple cider and she was bubbling away within hours. I actually put it in the fridge overnight so that it wouldn’t bubble over. Don’t do what I did, but good juice should start bubbling pretty quickly. I’m also curious if starting yeast in clean water helps it hydrate faster or work up an appetite or something. Good luck!

  3. Ian Swadling says:

    Hi webmaster, Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Chris Oberman says:

    At what point do I put the hard cider into the refridgerator?

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