Buy it or make it? Homebrew cider

At last, a fun grocery hack involving homebrew booze!

At least every fortnight, and sometimes every week, we’ll buy a six pack of craft beer to drink at home. This can add anywhere from $15 -$22 to the grocery bill. To brew beer ‘properly’ at home takes some considerable equipment and expertise and isn’t cheap at all. So when I came across this post, I was happy to learn that homebrewing cider is a very simple process indeed.

Ingredients

The key ingredients are: champagne yeast, great tasting apple juice with no preservatives added (preservatives would kill the yeast) and an air lock (to stop air getting in and turning the juice mouldy).

I didn’t really want to spend too much on equipment and ingredients just to try this out. After a bit more googling and searching, I found a supplier that could supply a very small amount of champagne yeast without a huge postage charge (try eBay) and an alternative to purchasing a brewing air lock – a balloon! Then I waited for a 2 litre bottle of Nudie apple juice to go on special at one of the supermarkets. And I was set.

Method

Not quite trusting that the whole thing wasn’t going to fizz up in my face and create a sticky mess, I took everything outside to set up the experiment. Here is everything you’ll need:

Homebrew cider

Prick the balloon four times with a needle to create some holes for the carbon dioxide to escape as the fermentation process takes place. If the bottle of juice you are using is very full, you could pour out a tiny bit of  juice to leave a little bit of space at the top for any fizzing action. Add a half teaspoon of the dried champagne yeast, replace the cap and shake or swirl the yeast into the juice. Remove the cap and position the balloon around the mouth of the bottle.

Homebrew cider

Retain the cap to reseal the bottle later (once it’s ready and you want to keep it in the fridge). If you’ve kept the juice in the fridge til now, nothing will happen for a few hours but the next day, you should definitely see some fizzing action.

Ten days pass… You’ll see that the fizzing has pretty much slowed to a halt. I think the number of days this takes will depend on the room temperature – longer in winter, shorter in summer. Remove the balloon, replace the clean bottle cap and keep in the fridge until it’s all drunk. There is a further step you can try to make a fizzy cider (the gas escapes through the balloon during first fermentation). Add a tablespoon of sugar, replace the cap and allow to ferment a little more before placing in the fridge. At this point, I’d definitely be moving the bottle to the garage in case of explosion, although you should be pretty safe with a plastic bottle.

How easy is that!

Cost comparison

The price of shop bought cider varies, but let’s look at Dan Murphy’s offerings. Monteith’s Heritage Cider comes in bottles of 500ml for $4.59, so 2 litres costs $18.36. A six pack of Strongbow cans (3,300ml in total) costs $19.99, so for 2 litres you pay $12.12.

To make 2 litres of cider at home the cost of the juice and yeast is $5 plus about $1 for the portion of yeast used and a few cents for the balloon. The cost of your time is negligible as it takes about 60 seconds to set this up. So let’s call the total homebrew cost $6.

If you made it regularly you’d invest in a couple of air locks at a few dollars each to keep the waste to a minimum. And if you have fruit trees or access to fallen fruit you could make this almost for free!

Buy it or make it?

At half the cost of Strongbow, this has to be a resounding MAKE IT!

Happy home brewing!

J

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