Recommend a yeast for making hard cider?

I have made beer and mead many times, now I want to try hard cider. I can easily get a hold of gallons of preservative-free fresh squeezed cider, but I’m not sure what kind of yeast to use. Ale? Wine? Any specific strains?

Thanks in advance.

My former roomie used champaigne yeast. Turned out to be very tasty.

Use the least alcohol-tolerant strain you can get. There’s not much sugar in juice and odds are good your yeast will eat all of it.

If it’s preservative-free cider, you don’t need to add any yeast at all. Just let the jugs sit in a cool spot and you’ll have wild strains happily fermenting away in no time.

Champagne yeast, and boost the sugar content if you want any residual sugar at all. Honey is good.

What are you looking for in your cider? Most home brewed cider comes closer to Blackthorne than Woodchuck, so be aware of that.

You can order special cider yeasts online. I’m not sure what sort of results you can get out of them, as I have been 0/2, with one at bat right now when it comes to my cider making.

But yes, champagne yeast is a perfectly acceptable substitute.


As stated above, you could just go with the wild yeasts already in the bottle. While suspect in nature, due to not being a “groomed” yeast, I have heard of some GREAT results from going wild. YMMV, of course.

How much sugar-boosting are we talking about? The only recipe I have suggests a cup of sugar, honey, or maple syrup per gallon.

I have made cyser before, for this I had in mind something simpler, like what the early settlers around here (I live in New England) might have consumed. Would champagne yeast still be a good choice for this?

Pleonast the cider I was going to use is preservative free but has been heat pasturized, which doesn’t bother me taste-wise but rules out using any wild yeast.

If you want true, frontier-type cider, then just add ale yeast and a cup of sugar to a gallon of cider. Make sure you allow for foaming when you air-lock it. Let set in a warm place for a day or so, then move to the fridge. You can control the amount of alcohol by keeping it cold. This would be an everyday cider, with about the same alcohol content as beer. For more potent stuff, champagne yeast and no refrigeration is the way to go. “Dry” is not the word for a fully attenuated cider.

It might be hard to find cider that hasn’t been pasteurised thus having latent wild yeasts rendered useless. There are still some Amish mills here that produce such a product, with printed disclaimer label.
I’ve found that spontaneous fermentation produces better tasting cider when done at refrigerator temps. Once vigorous gas production has begun an airlock can be eschewed by replacement of that which is drunk with fresh cider or even apple juice provided the latter is not used exclusively, altering taste.
Since I often make 60 gallon batches and don’t like to risk the investment, pitching with well roused lager yeast is standard, as are airlocks and temperature management. The result is a finely carbonated, somewhat sweet cider with a gravity similar to a lawn mower beer.
Just my opinion, but champagne yeasts aren’t necessary to ferment to dryness. The wild or beer yeasts will do this with apple cider alone. I’m sceptical that any pioneer would add sugar to cider. The alcohol content was boosted either by freezing or traditional distillation.
“Dry” is not the word for a fully attenuated cider." Amen.

When last we made cider, we filled a 10-gallon barrel, poured in five pounds of honey, drove in the bung, and let it sit.

By the time sugaring season came around in April, the cider was pretty smooth.

Yes, I’m don’t know where in the Boston area I could get unpasteurised, preservative-free cider short of pressing it myself.

My source for the early settlers sometimes adding sugar to their cider is the book
“Wines and Beers of Old New England” by Sanborn Brown (which I heartily recommend to anyone who has an interest in home brewing). I think he concedes it wasn’t done routinely but it was done.

I’ve traditionally used White Labs WLP775 English Cider Yeast, but Wyeast has some varieties as well.

A standard packet of dried ale yeast would work fine as well, and is likely the route I’ll go this year for the '08 cider production in my brewing. I’ll likely use Safale US-04, which is an English ale strain, low in induced flavors, and highly flocculant. (leads to very clear product)

Champagne yeast will tend to use all the sugar available, leaving a distinctly un-sweet cider, though I tend to ‘back sweeten’ with 1lb lactose per 5gal cider, added along with priming sugar at bottling (1 cup corn sugar). One could also use splenda or another sugar substitute to add sweetness.

I use 2lb of brown sugar in my cider, taking unpasturized cider and heating to 180F for 10 minutes (pasturizing it, and helping the sugar dissolve.)

Any of the local orchards should be able to help you out. Often they have pasteurized cider, but the ones in Southern NH that I visit mostly have unpasteurized product. You won’t find anything but pasteurized in the supermarkets.

I’m assuming the “banks of the Assabet” put you in metro west. If so, the multitudes of the Bolton/Lancaster area orchards would likely be a great start.
silenus, what term would you use for a fully attenuated cider in a batch from a high attenuation/alcohol content yeast like champagne yeast? I’m not doubting you, but I would have used the term “dry” myself.

That’s the problem with written as opposed to verbal communication. If I had spoken those words to you, you would have picked up on the intonation that meant “There isn’t a word dry enough to describe how dry the cider would be.” :smiley:

Wow. How weird. I was literally just about to ask a cider making question, and this is on the front page.

Anyhow, I used Red Star Cote de Blanc yeast for my current batch of cider. I also boosted the sugar content of the cider with 2 lbs of dry malt extract. You can use honey, corn sugar, etc., but I felt like giving DME a try to see what happens.

The question I was going to ask is this: I had some leftover juice that I felt like experimenting on, so I throw in some sourdough starter (I forget its exact provenance, it’s some 50-year-old starter from a friend). Two days later, and it’s bubbling happily away. What is going to come of this? Will I get something sour and lambic-like? Will I get something completely undrinkable? Will I be able to make vinegar out of this? Will I get something that, mixed 50-50 with sweet, unfermented cider, might be pretty interesting? Does anybody have any guesses?

I hate you all. :smiley:

I am working on my 3rd batch of cider. I started with 5 gallons of pasteurized but not preserved Cider, from a local orchard. Added the above mentioned English Cider Yeast.

Let sit for 9 months, racking twice (once at 6 weeks, again at about 6 months).

I bottled 2 weeks ago. What I’ve got tastes quite acidic, and since my first 2 batches were failures, I’m about to give up, and just keep buying it from my local beer distributor.

Were you scrupulous in your sanitation? You could also try using campden tablets with your pasteurized cider, just to be absolutely sure all the yeasts are killed off (although I really don’t think this will make a difference. If using, wait 24 hours before pitching yeast.) Have you tried cutting your finished cider with apple juice or apple concentrate to see if this makes it drinkable?

I’m actually close to Stow MA.

Really, really close.

Anyway there are at least 4-5 orchards that have their own cider here but I haven’t been able to find any that sell cider that isn’t either pasteurized or has postassium sorbate in it.

I think it might be a state law in MA now because I seem to remember I was able to buy it here years back, and certainly it was sold everywhere in my childhood in upstate NY. Now, not so much.

I’ve been happy with my cyser results using the heat pasteurized, so I have no qualms about going with that. My long term goal is to get my own press, then I can use whatever kind of apples I want, etc.

I’ll pretend I didn’t see that :eek:

Seriously, thanks for the input everyone.

That’s the secret to winning cyser, among other things. Let it ferment out completely, then dump a can of concentrate in just before bottling. Gives a great nore and really brightens up the flavors.

Ah hah. Will that make a sparkling cider (or cyser in your case) then? I assume the concentrate will be acted upon by the yeast for in-bottle carbonation. If so, is that one can you add per 5 gallons? Also, any danger of exploding bottles if you keep it for too long?