Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The most simple, brain dead recipe I can think of

Okay I've been working on this thought for a while now here is the most basic recipe I can think of.  It is for Apfelwein, a German Hard Cider.  The post show how to go full bore for 5 gallons, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this recipe.  You will notice that in his post he uses TreeTop Apple Juice.  I know that it is available in Seattle, and I believe it is distributed nationwide.  For you international folks you may have to improvise as an American brand.  The reason that they choose TreeTop is there are no preservatives added, these preservatives will kill your yeast.  You can buy it in 64oz (1/2 gallon) bottles and I believe that some places sell it in 128oz (1 gallon) containers.  I think for your time it is worth finding the 1 gallon as this is only ~10 bottles of Apfelwein.

Go look for a local homebrew store, the things you will be getting here depend on how much time and money you want to spend.  The most basic trip will be to get Dexterose (corn sugar) and a champagne yeast.  Tell them what you are doing, and if it is anything like my homebrew store the staff will be very helpful.  Ask if they have brewed with the yeast that they are directing you to, and find out about the type of Kräusen it makes. Because our vessel is very limited in size we want little to no Kräusen. The champagne yeast I used I believe did, but yeast mentioned in the recipe I linked to allegedly does not. For bonus points you can also get an airlock and stopper while at the homebrew store. I believe they run about $3 or so and are really pretty handy. If you are so inclined you could get the swing top bottles here I believe they where around $2 dollars each or $25 for a case of 12-16oz bottles. If you choose to drink your way through bottles to reuse you will need to buy a capper and spare caps. The capper runs ~$20 and a bag of 144 caps (I have no idea why 144) is ~$4. If you plan on making more than 1 gallon of Apfelwein at a time you might consider some of the other equipment I outlined in the previous post (carboy, racking cane ect.) otherwise you are done here.

Now purists will get on me for this but the point of this post is to be as basic as you can manage to be so here goes, we are going to ferment in the container that the juice comes in unless you bought more equipment. We are starting at room temperature 60-80 degrees, too hot and too cold stress the yeast out so really you should aim for these temps if you can and for the love of god don't just use baking yeast. Go buy actual yeast otherwise your results will not be worth the time and modest money you invested. The most basic way to proceed is remove 1/2 cup of juice from the 64oz container or 1 cup of juice from the 128oz container, and replace that with and equal amount of corn sugar (dextrose) replace the cap and shake it well to get the sugar mixed up. You may be able to remove less juice after you determine how much head space you need for fermentation, but to be safe try the numbers I used. After that you will add a fraction of the yeast packet, for the most part there is no real way to screw this up with over pitch so if you are too lazy to figure out 1/4 or so of the packet just dump the majority of it in.

Now to keep other junk out of the Apfelwein we need some aluminium foil to make a loose, but not too loose fitting cap. The yeast will produce CO2 so it needs to get out and not create pressure in your vessel.

Now here comes the hard part:

Leave it alone for the next month or preferably 2 months.  Yes you read that right, it takes forever.  This is why it is worth the time to make bigger batches.

Once you have waited for it to clarify for about 2 months you can bottle with a 1/2 teaspoon of dextrose per 12oz bottle and cap them.  Now you get to wait another 2 weeks at least before you put them in the fridge to drink.

Extra bonus points that where not covered here:

I read the steps and realized I never talked about sanitation, but this post is already ridiculously long so that will have to wait.


  1. Thanks man!! Gotta learn to crawl before you can walk amirite?

  2. You didn't cover sanitation? Is it not important?

  3. No offense but I would be afraid to drink something that's sat for two months in a beaker even before you bring up sanitation.

  4. Yep, sanitation is definitely crucial in brewing. As is waiting. I follow the 2-2-2 rule. 2 months to ferment, 2 weeks in bottles, and then 2 weeks in the fridge. After that, good to go.

  5. @badscribbler you have 2 thinks working for you here, there is alcohol (you leave that in the bottle all the time right??) and a layer of CO2 sitting on top of your fermented goodness. Even though it isn't carbonated, the CO2 is more dense then oxygen so the most reactionary element on the chart cannot get there to do it nasty business. The yeast typically out competes the other bugs that could be present and alcohol makes it hard for much else to grow. The same reason that sauerkraut can be left out and not go bad while you are making it. The things you cultivate are out competing the things that would otherwise make you sick. USDA guidelines being so over protective have lead people to believe that something at room temperature for more than an hour will kill you. The nanny state is slowly seeing to it that the good bacteria in our guts are being killed.