Cider, quick and cheap – recipe

Elderflower wine and cider


The elderflowers are all but finished and I was wondering what else to try – something wild or cheap. The wild fruits won’t be ready until autumn so I’ve had a go at cider, ‘turbo cider’ as it’s called on UK blogs and sites, ‘hard cider’ in the US, I believe. ‘Turbo’ refers to the speed at which it’s ready to drink, not the strength.

I found apple juice at .50p per ltr (although it’s labelled “100% pure apple juice – made from concentrate”, how can that be?) so this is costed at about £2.75 for 5ltrs, which compares well against shop bought cheap cider. My village shop sells cheap cider at £3.49 for 3ltrs. That’s 7.5% ABV compared to this recipe which is around 6% ABV, but the shop stuff is nasty, full of chemicals, tastes like supping from an ICI vat. And it comes in a deep blue plastic bottle, the same blue which was used for glass bottles in the 19th c. to warn of poisonous contents, which is quite amusing. I’m easily amused.

5ltrs Apple Juice
150grms Sugar
2tsps Yeast or recommended quantity of brewing yeast

Pour 3ltrs of juice into a clean demijohn. Heat a 4th litre to dissolve the sugar, then add to the demijohn. Check with your finger that it isn’t too hot, add the yeast, shake a little, put on the fermentation lock and watch the yeast spring to life. It’s fun. This will froth like billy-o for up to 24 hours, enough to blow off the fermentation lock and make a mess, so don’t add the 5th litre of juice until the initial volcanic reaction has subsided. Keep somewhere warm like an airing cupboard. Like many houses, mine doesn’t have one anymore, so I wrap demijohns in a sleeping bag with the top poking out.

I ran out of wine yeast about a year ago and have used Allinson’s quick acting bread yeast since, which works fine for me.

This should be ready for bottling in a week or two, once the fermentation is down to one plop a minute or less. Use strong glass or plastic fizzy drinks bottles, cleaned of course, adding ½tsp of sugar per litre if you want sparkling cider.

I might try making batches with a strip of cinnamon bark added, or maybe grated ginger or some of the elderflowers I’ve dried.

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