There’s not really much specialist equipment you need to make cider and if you’re lucky it is possible to reuse other things such as containers, tubes etc to make your brew. If we take the process from beginning to end of making your cider the equipment list looks something like this.
Milling and pressing the apples
To get the apples into tiny pieces before pressing I use a garden shredder that is dedicated to the process. I keep it scrupulously clean and lubricate it with vegetable oil. If you have a lot of apples to mill and the money to spend then you could consider a professional apple miller. At the other end a sturdy bucket and a long handled pole with some long nails knocked into one end can serve as a good apple basher.
To press the apples I recommend a proper press. There are more and more cider presses advestised on line and a google search should reveal many (here’s one a made earlier for your convenience) You can build your own press (ideas on how to here). Either way a press is the best possible way to get the juice out. Ifyou are making smaller quantities then a standard juicer should be able to cope. The juice you’ll get though will be a little clouder. You can clear this using pectolase or just live with the natural cloudiness.
Storage and fermentation
The first stage of cider fermentation requires a large sterile plastic container. We use a fermentation vessel that can be sealed with an airlock and also has a tap at the base so that it is easier and cleaner to drain off. These guys are quickand reliable and they have a good range of products. http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/. Once the cider has been in the vat for a few weeks then you will be racking off your precious brew. We use glass demi-johns as they are easy to manage and perfect in size to store the cider for the next four to six weeks. Once again a normal brewing supplies shop can provide demi-johns. You can also get plastic demi-johns which do seem to work but they don’t have the same arcane, bubbling aesthetic appeal of a row of glass demi-johns happily bubbling away. At this stage you will also need airlocks and rubber bungs for them. Airlocks all do the same job and personally I like to see the bubbles going through the tubes so I choose ones that are just a single tybe with a U-bend and then a series of bulbs joined together. Other types are based on different designs; once again a matter of personal preference.
Storage and presentation
Once the cider is ready to go into bottles you will need a lot of bottles to store the stuff in. Start collecting empty cava, champagne and any sparkling wine bottles now. In our humble experience these are the best, strongest way of storing cider. You can use beer bottles with a crown capper but whatever you do make sure you use a bottle that can take pressure. This is especially true if you are looking for a bubbly cider. Secondary bottle fermentation creates a lot of pressure and early on it is easy to get the dosing wrong and for cider bottles to go pop. With a strong bottle you may have exploding tops rather than generalised explosions.
Plastic champagne corks and cages are used to seal the bottles up. And of course if you are using old beer bottles you’ll need a crown capper and crowns for the bottle tops. Once again all of this is available from the suppliers. You can buy new bottles but they are expensive and a little pointless considering the amount of glass we throw away to the recyclers.
- Plastic tubing for syphoning.
- Chemicals if you’re that way inclined (and I am as it helps make things more reliable) but whatever your preference make sure you have some campden tablets to help sterilise all of your equipment.
- Buckets for catching juice
- Bottle brushes for cleaning yeast encrusted bottles and and vessels
- Airlocks and bungs
- A mop for cleaning up all of the mess you’re likley to make
- Yeast of your choice but we use either champagne or strong yeast. Cider yeast seems to be too weak and beer yeast is wrong. Just a quick point here. Yeast used to make bread is totally unsuitable for brewing; you’ll be wasting your time and your money/