After making quite a few batches of still cider I finally decided to make the jump into sparkling cider. I was reluctant at first, reading about force carbonation and the equipment required. But after further research I was able to get a good idea of what I would need to make it the old fashioned way.
Depending on your desired level of carbonation, this can be done in either beer bottles or champagne bottles. I wanted more carbonation, closer to the level of champagne, so I decided to go with thick champagne bottles with plastic stoppers and wire restraints.
The idea is pretty simple, dormant yeasts still exist in your cider, they just don’t have any thing to eat. Once you add sugar the yeast ‘wake up’ and get right back to work eating sugar and producing alcohol and co2 byproducts. In an air tight bottle there is no place for the co2 to escape, so it dissolves into the liquid; carbonation!
With all the supplies gathered, all that is needed is hard cider that has completed fermentation and has fully ‘cleared’, and a tiny bit of sugar (called primer in this case). I process one gallon of cider at a time, this makes five 750ml bottles.
What you need:
- 1 gallon finished hard cider
- 5 tablespoons of sugar
- 5 champagne bottles, stoppers, and wire
- Add 1 tablespoon (15ml) of sugar to each empty champagne bottle
- Slowly pour cider into each bottle, leave only 3cm of air space at the top of each bottle. This is important because you want the co2 to be forced into the liquid, not compressed air in the top of the bottle.
- Push the plastic plugs into the bottles. Make sure they are pushed all the way in, this can take a lot of force.
- Twist the wire restrainer. It helps to squeeze the bottom section around the bottle before you begin to twist.
- Let the bottles sit for about 3 weeks to finish. Deeply chill before opening, this will help prevent an explosion of cider when opening the bottle.
Links that helped in my research: