Any fruit juice will ferment over time if left to the elements. This thought process, as well as an email thread on the Members of Barleyment mailing list, led to my attempt to make my own cider.
Apple Juice: You need to use real apple juice. Ideally, the juice should contain nothing other than apples.
Yeast: Adding yeast instigates the fermentation process. The yeasts I've used thus far with varied success:
You can buy yeast from any place that makes or sells wine or beer making equipment, or somewhere such as a "U-Brew" where they make wine or beer on premises. It should be under $1 for a packet of yeast that is good for 19L
~$5cdn for 3.86L (1 gallon) juice x 4 (You can try it with one bottle, I just use 4 usually so I can try multiple yeasts to taste test the difference)
~$1cdn for yeast (good for all 4 bottles of juice)
~$22cdn total for 15.44L (4 gallons) of homemade cider.
- Open the bottles of Apple Juice
- Open a yeast packet, and pour in 1/4 of the package in each bottle (Assuming a typical package, which is meant for approx 20L of liquid)
- Place the lid back on the juice, but do NOT seal it -- it needs to breathe. Alternatively, you could place tinfoil loosely over the opening. Ideally, you will have a bunghole airlock that fits the opening. While you want it to breathe, you don't want particles getting in and affecting your active yeast.
- Check it daily until you see the "activity" settle. Somewhere between 4 and 12 days is the average for most yeasts. In our experience, it has always been ready in less than 6 days.
- You don't need to bottle or keg it, Enjoy!
Carbonation: If you want it carbonated, we prefer not to, just seal the lid tight on the 5th night for 24 hours. The next day it's now carbonated as well.
Results: The EC1118 was very sweet, typical to a hard cider you would purchase. The Coopers was average, with a slightly rounded taste. The K1-V1116 was hollow with a sharp finish. The Nottinngham contained a slight complexity and depth, and was my personal favourite from the batch used in this example. I have since purchased more apple juice and will master this craft :)
Advanced Steps: Any commercial yeast publishes technical data sheets on their yeast, including optimal temperatures and life span, look up yours to see how long you should be leaving it! As of writing this, you can get the EC-1118 sheet here