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Cider and Perry


[# Country Cider]   [# Perry]   [# Hard Cider]

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Simple Cider (to make 4.5l) by Peter Laycock.

A very easily made dry cider which is slightly acidic to the taste and can easily be adapted/modified as required, I find adding the petals of an aromatic, fully opened rose, picked on a good sunny day, can be added around day 4, giving a little subtlety to the bouquet and flavour.




1)   Add the pectic enzyme to a sterilized demijohn; add the sugar after dissolving in about 70ml of warmed water. Pour in all the apple juice (the enzyme is added before the juice to help save it from oxidizing or going brown). Add the Bentonite (if used), yeast & nutrient.

2)   Fit an airlock & keep the temperature about 17-21°C.

3)   When the bubbles in the airlock are more than 1 minute apart, the cider is deemed to have “finished”. (You can add wine “finings” at this stage to help the cider to clear.) Top the demijohn up to about 4.7 litres (this allows for wastage). Keep the demijohn in a cool dark place for about a fortnight to allow more sediment to settle out before bottling.

4)   Bottle in plastic "pop" (PET) bottles with ½ to 1 level tsp sugar per 500ml & keep warm for a few days for the bottles to get "fat" or “un-squeezable” with the pressure created by the secondary fermentation. For safety reasons, glass bottles ARE NOT recommended owing to the pressures involved.

5)   Store somewhere cool for at least a month before sampling.




This cider would typically have an O.G. of around 1038 and a F.G. of around 998, giving about 5.6% ABV (including the priming sugar) & 0.75% (or more) acidity. Rubbish shop-bought ciders have low acidy, or this may be masked by the artificial sweeteners, or both. But don’t worry; very good shop-bought ciders, with high, acidity are available.


For a less acidic cider the apple juice can be reduced to 3 litres and the sugar increased to 150g for the same alcohol level. Keeping the sugar level at 50g produces about 4.5% ABV for the finished cider & omitting the sugar completely produces 3.7%.


Stronger versions can be produced by adding extra sugar during stage 1, each extra 50g of sugar provides about 0.5% alcohol but do not sacrifice quality for alcoholic strength!


I usually make cider at the same time as I make a wine. After cleaning & sterilising the equipment, I re-hydrate the wine yeast in about 25ml of water mixed with a similar quantity of fruit juice. While the yeast gets working I now start on making the cider/wines. The yeast, when added, now gets a “flying start”.

Extracting the juice from apples for cider making

By far the easyest method for apple juiceis to buy tetra pak apple juice from the super market.

There are three key ways to make Cider from apples and they are:- pulp ferment slices, use a juicer, or pulp and press.

1) Slice and pulp ferment.
I use an apple corer that cores and evenly slices the apple. I discard the core and put the slices directly into the fermenter. Once it is brewed for about 48 hours I take the slices out and give them a bit of a bash and put them back. I put them in a nylon sieve bag to allow the pulp to be removed easily. (See recipy above and note use of pectic enzyme. This method can make a gooey mess and needs pectic enzyme and good finning to end up with a clear cider.

2) Juicer
Use a good whole fruit juicer. Make sure the whole fruit juicer gets rid of the pulp as it goes. Apples give a juicer a fair workout and hence I suggest a good juicer with a good motor 600-700watts should do it. To speed things up you want a whole fruit juicer with a wide enough inlet to take your apples without slicing them and then a good outlet that does not make you stop frequently. Above I have put a link to the type of juicer I should have bought. The one I have is not nearly as good but it does the job.
Key features are:- Motor size, In-let feeder size, Pulp catcher size, Easy to empty pulp catcher.

3) Pulp and Press
The traditional method and probably best for larger quantities.
First you need to pulp up the apples. There are several methods for doing this. From bashing them with a kitchen hammer to using a pulper.
Then the pulp is put in the press and the juice is squeezed out. The exact method depends on quantity on apples.

The instructions below are the old style very strong country cider.

Country Cider by Mrs. Gennery-Taylor

"For the best cider, a mixture of different varieties of apples is best. Those usually chosen are non-keepers, small sour or windfall, with, if desired, a few crab-apples. An odd rotten apple in a large number is permissible, but otherwise they should be sound.

Before the Second World War, my historical searches tell me there were traveling cider presses in some districts, as many farms and cottages had a small orchard. This practice seems to have disappeared, though it may still exist in a few country areas.  

To get your apples pressed ideally, a cider factory is the thing, if you can persuade them to do it. Alternatively, a cider factory might sell you newly pressed apple juice. For those who cannot find a cider factory, you can buy a fruit press from your local specialist shop.  

The juice should be put into a wooden cask - a 30 gallon ex-brandy cask is ideal for first-class good keeping cider. Base your calculations on the fact that a ton of apples makes approximately 150 gallons of cider; therefore a cwt. makes approximately 7.5 gallons. Any good size wooden or plastic cask is suitable but the larger the better as fermentation goes on longer in a greater quantity of juice, thus producing a high alcohol content. The cask should stand in a cool place either on its side or end, wherever the bung hole is uppermost.  

Never bung up the hole while fermentation is still going on; unless to bring the cask home, perhaps! After about forty eight hours the apple juice will start to ferment and white froth will bubble up through the bung hole. This will continue for about three weeks when fermentation has almost stopped, some juice should be siphoned out of the cask with a short length of sterile clear plastic pipe. The amount of juice removed should be sufficient to dissolve the required quantity of sugar.

Add 2 to 4 lb of sugar (depending on how sweet you want the cider) per gallon in the cask to the juice you have removed, and dissolved over heat. When quite dissolved, allow to cool, and then return to the cask. Owing to the addition of the sugar all the sweetened juice will not go back in at once. During fermentation, which will go on for about two weeks, the quantity of liquid in the cask reduces so that you can add the surplus gradually (as space permits). When fermentation has nearly finished, if all the 'juice and sugar mixture' is not in the cask, siphon out enough juice to allow this to go in. Bottle what you take out and use to keep the cask full while the cider is maturing -- as the quantity reduces during this process. Developing airspace in the cask will otherwise allow bacilli to breed and turn the cider acid.

When the juice has completely ceased to 'bubble up' bung the cask up tightly with either cork or wood, and leave for eight months.  

Cider is usually made in October - November, and should be left as long as possible - up to two years before opening it, but at least until the cuckoo sings the following year. Then the cask may be tapped, or the cider bottled down with care.  

Innocent to taste but powerful -- up to 15% alcohol can be achieved."  

I have not changed any wording so as not to lose the spirit of her text. Clearly there are parts that need updating as we are likely to use food grade plastic not "alas" wooden casks".  

The yeast is naturally on the apples. This is the traditional method one could take some risk out by adding a prepared yeast culture (champagne yeast).  

There is an interesting point and that is it does best in large quantities. This is also true of regular wine production. I'm not likely to pop down to the super market for a ton of mixed apples but maybe a group of us home brewers could club together to reproduce this vintage cider.  

Perry (pear cider)
Dry perry (pears) / cider (apples)
firm but juicy pears
So, your apple/pear tree is overflowing and there is only so much you can eat. Well you can always brew them!

sour apples (cider) or firm but juicy pears (perry)
1) Choose your fruit make sure you avoid bad ones
2) Leave them in a warmish place for several weeks until they are just beginning to soften.
3) Chop and smash the fruit into a pulp
4) Strain through muslin, pressing very hard so that all juices are extracted. A fruit press is best for this but that an expense we'll try to avoid.
5) Keep this juice in the pan in a warm place.
6) Allow to bubble.
7) When bubbles rise to the surface of the liquid and the sediment drops to the bottom, put into a cask.
(Please note this recipe is country style where the natural yeast on the fruit is relied upon to ferment the extracted juice. This can be risky as who knows what yeast there is on your apples. Some less country minded folk wash there apples very well and add brewers yeast to the extracted juice to ensure that all is well)
8) Once bubbles stop and the brew is in the cask cover tightly.
9) Leave for 6-7 months
10 Strain and bottle.

Apple picker from Nether Wallop Trading

ApplePickerI went out apple picking armed with my new apple picker. Tried it out on a nice mix of cooking apples and eating apples. The picker does not come with a pole but fortunately most poles seem to fit. I used a wooden pole from my beach wind breaker. Tied a few poles together for the high up apples. Did it work? Was it of benefit? Yes and Yes. To pick the high up apples you need a picker like this and you want the picker to have a catcher or the apples will bruise. Last year I used a step ladder and nearly got a free ride to A&E. I found the picker great for eating apples but it was a lot harder on the cooking apples. Cooking apples seem to hang on to the tree and cluster in tight bunches. Oh yes make sure the picker is firmly attached I nearly got the picker end stuck up in the tree. Once it is on firmly and you have the right technique then its easy. I managed to pick apples more than 20 foot up. The picker is made from galvanized steel and has a cotton bag large enough to hold about a kilo of fruit. I have not tried it on pears or plums yet but I and sure it will do well on these.



Hard Cider

Hard cider is not a term we use much here in the UK. In some parts of the US they refer to non-alcoholic apple juice as cider. To distinguish between non-alcoholic apple juice and alcoholic apple juice they called the one with alcohol "hard cider". Then just to confuse things even more you can distil fermented cider of around 7% alcohol to be a 40% version. Much harder and I think it’s still called hard cider. Drinks such as apple jack are more popular in the USA. I have not seen this on sale in the UK but know it’s got a strong following elsewhere. This type of drink is sometimes made by back woodsmen with a home made pot still.

So to recap my understanding of what I think the Americans and the Canadians call different apple drinks.

Alcohol percent

US / Canada term

UK term



Apple Juice


Hard Cider

Cider or old the world term Cyder


Apple Wine

Apple Wine


Hard Cider

Apple Brandy

WARNING: Distilling is a skill of its own and if not done correctly is very dangerous. The alcohol fumes can blow up home made stills, and the end result if not done by an expert can be very toxic resulting in death or blindness.
If you know what you are doing and if it is legal and safe then please don't let me put you off.


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