Hit Up Fall With Hard Cider

It’s Cider time! Here in Michigan, it’s a big deal. I realize it may not be in some parts of the country but I know in the upper Midwest and The Pacific Northwest, cider is a big deal. Why? Well, because of all the apples we harvest! Cider is a drink made by crushing fruit to get the raw juices. It is usually done with apples, but it’s not unheard of to see other ciders out there. I remember as a kid we would take a field trip to the local apple orchard where we would pick apples, watch them crush the apples into cider, then getting to drink apple cider and eat some delicious cinnamon and sugar donuts. It was the ultimate fall experience. 
There are two types of cider though. The kind I had as a kid and the kind we know as “hard cider”. This kind of cider is a fermented alcoholic drink. In the past few years it’s popularity has risen. A popular brand called Woodchuck had long made hard ciders but recent companies like, Redd’s Apple Ale, Crispin Apple Cider, Angry Orchard, and Strongbow have increased the popularity of the drink. 

How To Make Your Own Hard Cider

If you are a hard cider enthusiast, a connoisseur of all things fall, or a beer brewer who wants to branch out then this section is for you. Brewing your own Hard Cider is actually pretty easy but to be on the safe side you probably don’t want to invest too much into this recipe until you know you can make it correctly. The recipe will make about 1 gallon of hard cider. It can be doubled but again, let’s learn to crawl before we walk.

So here is a list of what you will need according to howtomakehardcider.com

  • 1 gallon of apple cider (fresh pressed, or store bought–without preservatives!)
  • TWO GLASS 1-gallon jugs. 
  • A rubber stopper with a hole. For a 1-gallon jug–you need a Drilled #6 size.
  • An airlock, also known as a “bubbler” 
  • Brewing yeast 
  • Star San for sterilizing. Super concentrated:1 oz. makes 5 gallons of sanitizer!
  • 1 Camden tablet (only if you are using non-pasteurized cider and want to control your yeast 

Step 1 – Clean everything. One of the most important parts of brewing your hard cider will be to sterilize all of your equipment. 

Step 2 – Choose your Juice and Yeast. The choices available for Apple Cider are Raw Orchard Fresh Cider, Pasteurized Orchard Cider, Pasteurized Cider – from the grocery store. Fresh Pressed cider is the best option for tastes, but pasteurized is a safer bet because there is a significantly lower risk of E. Coli.

Yeast usually finds it way into cider naturally so why don’t you just roll with that? Well, the results can vary dramatically. So we recommend going with a brewers’ yeast. Usually an Ale Yeast or Cider Yeast will do the trick.

Step 3 – Take your cider and pour it into a glass 1 gallon jug. If you are using fresh cider and want to control the wild yeast this is where you will need the Camden tablet. Crush the tablet and dissolve into 1 tablespoon of very hot water and add to the gallon on juice. Then you will want to add the yeast. If you are using 5 g packet then you will want to you use ⅕ of that packet. This process is called ”pitching the yeast”. Then put the stopper with the hole drilled into it and put your airlock into the hole. The “airlock” is just a way for the gas to escape and for the yeast to start the fermentation process. Once in place, pour a small amount of the Star San Water into the airlock. Then give about 24 to 36 hours and you should then hear the bubbles from the fermentation process.

Step 4 – The “back carbonation” method is when you should WAIT until bubbling has nearly stopped and there are only few bubbles around the surface of the neck of the jug. You are letting the yeast convert ALL of the sugar in the cider to alcohol, and the cider will be “dry.” You can also use “forced carbonation” where you simply inject carbonation into the liquid.

Step 5 – Here you will want to rack the cider, which means you will be moving it from one jug to another. This is often done with an auto siphon by having the full jug raised above the empty jug. This process leaves all of the sediment and chunks leftover from the fermentation process in the other bottle. 

Step 6 – At this time you can add flavorings, not during the fermentation process. Then once you have achieved a flavor you are happy with then you can bottle it. 

If you would like to take more evenly measured route then you should check out this kit available on Amazon. 

The Perfect Fall Meal 

Here are some recipes for food that would pair expertly with your hard cider. Mostly because they are all apple related!

Apple Cinnamon Bacon Bites
  • 1 pound of bacon with each slice cut in half
  • 2 large peeled apples cut into 1 inch slices
  • cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
  • toothpicks for bacon and apples

Preheat oven to a low broil or 400 degrees. Wrap 1/2 piece of bacon around each apple slice until you run out of bacon. Place each bacon bite on a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle each bacon bite with the cinnamon sugar. Bake around 10 minutes each side or until the bacon is a deep brown and crisp on the edges. Take from heat and sprinkle a little more cinnamon sugar on top. Enjoy! (original recipe found here)

Cider Glazed Chicken with Easy Apple Raisin Stuffing

Chicken

  • 1 ½ tbsp. All-purpose flour w ½ tsp. Kosher salt 
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice 
  • 4 (6 oz. each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
  • ½ cup Michigan Apple cider or juice 
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Combine flour, salt and allspice in a resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken; seal and shake bag to coat chicken evenly.

Place oil in pan. Add chicken, and cook 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and add apple cider and vinegar to pan; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan and drizzle with cider glaze. Makes 4 servings.

Stuffing

  • 1 large Michigan Apple, cored, and cut into ½–inch pieces 
  • ½ cup raisins 
  • 1 box whole wheat, chicken stuffing mix

Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions but add apple pieces and raisins to boiling water just before adding stuffing mix. Makes 5 servings.

Original Recipe found here.

Apple Cinnamon Crumble with Dulce De Leche
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 10 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 4 lbs. apple pie filling
  • ¾ cup dulce de leche, warmed
  • ¾ cup prepared whipped topping
  • Additional ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat convection oven to 375°F.

Combine flour, sugar, nuts, oats and cinnamon. Stir in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Spoon apple pie filling into sprayed half steam table pan. Sprinkle flour mixture over apple pie filling.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm, topping each serving with 1 tbsp. each dulce de leche and whipped topping. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve.

Makes 12 Servings

Original recipe found here

Make sure you take full advantage of this fall season and everything it has to offer. Hard cider can be enjoyed anytime now but it’s always great to get some non-alcoholic cider too. So get out your best sweaters and puffy vests and go enjoy your local orchard if you have one. If not grab a 6 pack of hard cider and enjoy. Except for you DD! Normal cider for you pal! Cheers!

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