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How to Make Cranberry Apple Cider

Updated on April 12, 2018
The ingredients and tools.
The ingredients and tools.

A Nice Twist to a Hard Cider

I made my first batches of hard cider a couple months ago. It was easy and fun to do. My wife and I were having a Halloween get together with a group on international friends who had never experienced Halloween before and I wanted to give them a nice personal touch for the event. We carved pumpkins, drank homemade cider, both normal and hard, had a bonfire in the backyard and just generally enjoyed the time!

The hard cider came out great. I made two different varieties by using different sugar types in the fermentation process and both came out crisp and delicious. The cider was a hit. I have been thinking for a while that I wanted to make something a little different a cider that was more tart, something that gave a little kick to the taste buds. I did some generally searching on the internet but didn't find any great recipes, so I decide to venture out on my own using my past alcohol creating knowledge and some hopefully good guessing.

I decided to start the same with an apple juice base and add in cranberry juice to get the kick that I wanted.

The photo to the right shows everything I used (for the most part). In order to reduce spilling and mess, I used a funnel and a 2 quart measuring cup, but if you don't have those items just take it slow and you can do everything with the items list.

A full ingredient list will be included below, but I wanted to touch on the use of generic juices over organic/non-pasteurized juices. You can probably get different, perhaps more rich flavors from more expensive juices, but in my own experience I have noticed little difference in the end product. My personal goal is to make the alcohol as tasty as possible, but also at the best price. I have had great results in using the bottled juices and at a far better prices that shopping in the expensive section of the store.

That being said, DO pay attention to the juice you are buying. You want to buy 100% juice, not odd mixtures of random percentages. While I add additional sugar to increase alcohol potential and production the majority of the sugars that the yeast feeds on will come from the juice.

Sanitation

As I will continue to do with each do it yourself alcohol creating experience I have attached a link to a video on how to sanitize your equipment.

Before starting your cider, or any alcohol project, carefully and thoroughly sanitize all of your equipment. As mentioned above, I used a couple other kitchen tools other than the bottles and bubbler's above and those need to be sanitized as well. Anything that will be touching your end product needs to be cleaned, and that includes your hands!

While bacteria that gets in your final product made not make your sick or be bad for you, it is bad for the taste of your alcohol and may make your effort all for nothing if you can't stand the taste of what you created. So please, if you are new to alcohol creation, take a moment to watch the video below and make sure you keep everything clean!

Sanitation is Important!

Getting Started

Since I wasn't going off a set recipe I just started the way I thought would be best. I took my two one gallon containers (mine are glass carboys, but yours do not have to be. You can easily use plastic gallon containers from juice or milk, just make sure they are properly cleaned!) and added my sugar and yeasts.

The sugar was 1 1/2 cups and the yeast was one packet of champagne yeast split between the two, this came out roughly to 1 3/4 tsp per container. I had champagne yeast from a previous project, but you can use bakers yeast if that is all you have. The type of yeast will affect the taste, but probably not so greatly that you would be disappointed. With the champagne yeast if gives is a slightly more dry taste, which I like.

Once you've poured in your yeast and sugar, start separating the liquid. I used my 2 quart measuring cup to pour out half the apple juice and half the cranberry juice. I also learned the my 2 quart measuring cup is not 100% accurate. But that's neither here nor there ... just a small commentary. Once I had emptied roughly half of the liquids into into the large container, I used a funnel and poured the rest of the juice from the bottles into the first glass container.

Since we are not working with one gallon increments in the ingredients, the bottle is clearly no all the way full, this is not a problem, just a note.

Take the second container and pour the excess juice that you separated earlier into it. Now you should have two pinkish colored containers with lots of unmixed sugar at the bottom. Plug the container with a cap, a cork or a clean hand and shake, shake, shake! You want to mix the sugar in as much as possible and this is going to require a lot of arm work. The majority is going to mix in quickly but in order to get it all mix together you'll need to shake, twist, turn and shake some more.

Once you have both bottles mixed it should look like the picture below. You going to see the sugar start to settle again immediately, but that is to be expected. The sugar is just providing additional food to the yeast to help create more alcohol. So don't worry about the layer that settles at the bottom of the bottle, it is going to grow even more as the yeast feeds!

Mix everything as well as you can!
Mix everything as well as you can!

Almost done!

The last step is to put your bubble catch on top of the bottles and set in a warm dark location for the yeast to start doing it's work! If you don't have a bubble catch, have no fear you can use a balloon with holes poked in it that will serve the same purpose. Just affix the balloon to the top of the bottle and secure with a tight rubber band to make sure it doesn't pop off.

Make sure you label your product with what it is and the date of creation. I prefer masking tape and a sharpie. It's going to take 2 - 3 weeks for the fermentation to stop and at that point you can bottle your cider however you see fit.

For the time being I am writing this hub as the cider is in process. I will include some bottling instructions below, but when I have completed and bottled the cider I will update this hub with pictures of my final product.

The Foam Let's You Know It's Working!

Don't fear the foam. This is 14 hours after starting fermentation. The foam is a product of the yeast feed on the sugar and creating alcohol. Your cider should be bubbling at this point!
Don't fear the foam. This is 14 hours after starting fermentation. The foam is a product of the yeast feed on the sugar and creating alcohol. Your cider should be bubbling at this point!
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
Yields: 1.5 Gallons of Cider (after 3 weeks of wait time)
  • 1 Gallon 100% Apple Juice
  • 1/2 Gallon 100% Cranberry Juice
  • 1 Packet Champagne Yeast
  • 3 Cups White Sugar
  1. Add half the sugar and half the yeast to each bottle.
  2. Pour half the apple juice and half the cranberry juice into each bottle.
  3. Shake and mix each bottle until the sugar has been absorbed as much as possible.
  4. Put bubble catch or balloon on top of bottle, label your product with contents and the date, and store is a warm area.
  5. Once fermentation has completed (2-3 weeks) bottle your cider and enjoy!

Bottling

Bottling for cider is easy. It's probably best to use sanitized 2-liter or 1-liter soda bottles, but you can use wine bottles, beer bottles, milk containers, just about anything. Since the cider is ready to go as soon as fermentation is complete you don't need to worry as much about bottling and aging as you would with mead or other alcohols.

If you plan to carbonate you cider, there will be more steps involved. I don't personally carbonate my cider so that step is not included in this Hub. I will just use club soda or seltzer to add carbonation if desired.

Give it a try!

This is a very easy recipe and I will update on the finished product with both pictures and my personally impression of the taste and flavor. If you are experienced and have all the tools this recipe really takes about 15-20 minutes to get starts and the rest of the time will be bottling at the end of the fermentation product.

With the holidays coming up quickly this could be a great gift for friends and family or a nice way to impress those around you with your alcohol creating skills! If you do give this a try please let me know what you think, I love to get feed back and even advice on better ways to work through the process.

This recipe obviously is used to create alcohol so it is only meant for those where are of legal age.

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