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Welcome to week 4 of the 52 weeks of bad a** bacteria series! I hope you have enjoyed the posts so far. What fun ferments are going on in your kitchen? I hope you have been inspired to join me on my journey to eat more probiotic foods. I know I’ve been having a blast and it really has helped me focus on getting more probiotics into my gut.
This week, I decided to try one of Sandor Katz’s recipes from Wild Fermentation. And, believe me when I say this is the simplest fermented recipe you’ll ever try! The term apple cider is most commonly used to refer a non-alcoholic juice blend made from apples. It is usually cloudy, unlike filtered apple juice, which is clear. The cloudiness comes from the bits of apple pulp that are left in the juice. The best apple cider will be unpasteurized and kept in the refrigerated sections of the grocery store. Many places only sell it seasonally since it has a very short shelf life.
The term hard cider, or cyder, refers to the alcoholic drink made from fermented apples. The flavor and alcohol levels will vary, depending on the types of apples used and the amount of fermentation time. Wikipedia says:
“Conventional apple cider has a relatively high concentration of phenolics, namely hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives, monomeric and oligomeric flavan-3-ols, dihydrochalcones and flavonols, andantioxidants which may be helpful for preventing heart disease, cancer, and other ailments. This is, in part, because apples themselves have a fairly high concentration of phenolics.”
During the Colonial Period of the United States, apple cider was the most common beverage consumed with meals because the water was unsafe to drink. They had a mildly alcoholic version called Ciderkin that was given to children. It was made from the dregs of stronger apple cider and was very weak. Sometimes ginger or molasses would be mixed in.
Before this little experiment, I had no idea that cider was such a fascinating drink. Wikipedia has an extensive entry about what constitutes cider in various parts of the world. If you’re at all interested in this fermented apple drink, I recommend checking out Wiki’s full post.
Like I said before, this really is the simplest fermented beverage you’ll ever make. All you need is one jug of unpasteurized apple cider, some cheesecloth, and a few days.
Spontaneous Apple Cider
from Wild Fermentation
- FRESH apple cider (not pasteurized)
- Rubber band
Get the best quality apple cider you can find. Better yet, if you have a juicer and access to organic apples, juice your own. Apples have been ridiculously expensive recently, so I didn’t have access to fresh apples for juicing. Thankfully, we have a local source for apple cider from Delicious Orchards, which is located in the North Fork Valley area of Colorado. The brand of cider that they sell at my local Vitamin Cottage is called Big B’s.
If you can’t juice your own, then check your local health food store. They should sell fresh cider in either 1/2 gallon or gallon jugs. If it’s in a glass jug, all you need to do is bring it home, take off the lid, put some cheesecloth and a rubber band over the mouth of the jar and leave it alone. If it’s in a plastic jug, you’ll need to transfer it into a glass container. Cover with the cheesecloth and rubber band. Big B’s comes in a plastic jug, so I poured mine into a glass mason jar.
Once you secure the cheesecloth, leave the cider out at room temperature for 5-7 days. I just sat mine on my kitchen counter off to the side where it wouldn’t be disturbed. Check the cider daily for mold. If you get little flecks of white mold, just gently skim them off the top. Also, taste the cider daily so you can really see how the taste changes. I would just take a clean straw and gently insert it under the foam and sip.
The fermentation process will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen. My house stays at 68 degrees and this is how my fermentation process went:
Day 1 – The pulp settled on the bottom. No activity. Sweet and fresh tasting.
Day 2 – Not much activity. Still smelled and tasted like sweet apple juice.
Day 3 – A tan foam appeared on the surface about an inch thick. Some of the brown pulp rose and settled on top of the foam. Still tasted sweet, but had a very faint yeasty smell. I had a few flecks of white mold, each about the size of a grain of sand, which I gently skimmed off the top. Bubbles of carbonation were starting to appear along the sides of the jar. The two pics in this post were from day 3.
Day 4 – The foam remains. The yeasty smell was much stronger and the cider tasted faintly like wine. Still sweet, but not as sweet as Day 3 and very lightly fizzy. Two teeny, tiny flecks of mold that I skimmed off.
Day 5 – Foam remains. Strong yeasty smell and the cider was only slightly sweet, yet mildly tart. Very fizzy and refreshing. I decided to bottle it at this point.
The thing that I found so fascinating about this process was how quickly things changed from one day to another. When I went to bed on Day 2, there was no foam, but when I woke up on Day 3, there was a thick layer of foam on the top. On Day 4, the juice was still pretty sweet, but by Day 5, the sweetness was very faint. You could leave it longer, but I decided to bottle after Day 5 because I didn’t want it to get too tart.
I bottled the cider in the same flip top bottles that I used for my kombucha. After I bottled the cider, I left them out at room temperature (in a covered box, just in case something exploded) for 2 days and then moved to the fridge. Just like your kombucha, the juice will slowly continue to ferment as it ages, so the flavor will change a little. The beverage is very refreshing and mildly alcoholic, so enjoy in moderation. I just bought a hydrometer to test the alcohol levels in my fermented beverages, but I have not gotten around to testing this one yet. I will update this post when I do.
So, tell me. Have you made hard apple cider before? How about wine, mead, or beer? I personally am having so much fun with these fermentation projects and I can’t wait to keep experimenting!
I have some apple cider that has turned “hard” in my fridge. Any idea if I can mix it with some Bragg’s ACV in a glass jar, cover with cheesecloth and let it sit until it turns into vinegar? It seems like it would work, but I’m wondering if anyone has tried with success…
Great question, Tiffany. You know, I’m not sure. In theory, it would work, but I have not tried it. I poked around on the Wild Fermentation forum a little and there does seem to be some stuff on there about apple cider. Might be worth exploring. Do you think you’ll drink the cider as is? If not, I’d say go for it and try to get it to turn to vinegar — no harm in trying! 🙂 Here’s the link to the forum: http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=2&sid=c2c6fbaf98d76200cacd1f4868a091c9. Let me know if you have any luck!
I’ve been reading about this. If you have a mother from your organic raw apple cider vinegar, you can put it in with your apple juice/fermented or not and let the mother feed just like kombucha. You’ll have apple cider vinegar after no time at all. No need to actually add vinegar.
Awesome! Good to know! 🙂
We make Apple Jack from cider we press. In a glass gallon jug leave a 3 inch space. Add one grated potato the size of a womans fist, 1 pound of dark brown sugar and 1 cup of raisins Drill a hole in the cap, insert small plastic tube (like the tubes used by people on oxygen) about a fot long. do not put tube in cider, leave end in air space, put other end in a quart of water, end in the water. Melt wax around the cap and tbe to seal. Leave in cool dry place away from direct sun. It will bubble after a few days, when it quits bubbling (depends but usually 3-4 weeks) filter it and put in glass capped glass bottles or canning jars. yes drink in moderation, strong but tasty!
Great tips Cheryl! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Do you refrigerate after bottling
Hi David – Yes. Once I bottle it I will move it to the fridge. The longer it sits the stronger it will get as it will keep fermenting some the longer it ages.
Tiffany: Sure! This link offers both a recipe for using it in a drink, and below that, how to make it.
I will definitely try this. EASY is the word that grabs my attention! Can you keep it in the fridge indefinitely once you bottle it up?
Easy, easy!! I hope you enjoy! I’m assuming you could keep it indefinitely, but I’ve read that it does continue to ferment and will probably get pretty tart after some time. I’m going to keep a bottle in there to test that theory. I’ll let you know in 6 months! 🙂
I have been so meaning to try this too! I can get raw organic apple cider, but it’s so expensive. It sure would be fun as a special treat! Thanks for posting this, I shared it on facebook!
Thanks Lydia. Yeah. It is pricey. Not sure what the price is in your area, but it’s $4.99 a half gallon here. Hope you enjoy!
This is really cool! They don’t sell fresh cider here, but I could probably jucie some apple myself and try, it seems so easy and fun!
I found your site yesterday and I’m loving it! 😀
Hi Linn! Thanks for stopping by. So glad you found me and left a comment. Yes, juicing your own apples would be ideal! I want to try that next time. But, apples have been so outrageous here that it was actually cheaper to buy the fresh juice! Hope you enjoy!
I have been brewing for sometime now…
I just picked up 5gal of unpasturized cider (from a local farm up here in VT) I brought a carboy and they filled it for about $20. I know I know, they practically give it away up here ^_^
I never naturally ferment anything..yes, it’s possible but not always a good idea. I kill the natural yeast in the cider ASAP, yes, the ethanol will kill most bacteria though; there is a stain of E.Coli you really need to watch out for. I kill the yeast with 2 Tabs and pitch Wyeast Cider yeast. 1. gives a much better flavor to any cider/mead but, also puts the abv% upt to 10+. Naturally fermented cider can only push 4-4.7% abv. Nothing wrong with that, but hardly “brewing.”
Cider will stop fermenting once put in the fridge as the yeast (no yeast) can survive the cold. There is also, the option of ‘bottle conditioning’ your cider. Called PRIMING – I always do this, so that I have more of a champange like feel. I will be ‘dry hopping’ 2gal of my cider with Cascade hops and I’ll let that sit for about 7-10 days. Then bottle.
If you have any Q’s on brewing hit me up on Facebook – search: Sugarwater Brewing Company.
Thanks for the tips. I don’t plan on doing any more of this type of brewing, as I rarely drink alcohol, but it was a fun experiment. I was following what Sandor Katz instructs in his book. Most beer, cider, wine, etc. brewing is far too complicated for me, so I’ll leave that to the experts! 🙂
Fabulous post, thank you! One question – what about all the foam? Skim it off before bottling? Leave it be? Stir it back in?
Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I just put a lid on my jar and shook all the foam back in and bottled it. Sandor didn’t give any indication as to whether to skim it off or not, so I just decided not to skim it. I hope you enjoy!
If there is foam, then your ‘must’ isn’t done fermenting. There will be no activity when the yeast is done “eating.”
Rack it when it’s done and let it sit another 30 days. Rack it again, and bottle it.
Every site I see on the Internet mentions using yeast to start the fermentation process. Also, is unpasteurized apple cider absolutely necessary? Again, most sites I’ve been to says that pasteurized is OK and the only thing that you absolutely don’t want is preservatives. If unpasteurized is necessary can I just squeeze my own store-bought apples (any kind?).
Jeff – I think the yeasts come into play when you’re making beer and wine (and mead?). For this apple cider, the yeasts that are in the air and the environment are enough to get things going. I also think that if you use pasteurized apple cider, then you will need added yeast. Sandor specifically says unpasteurized in his book and I’m guessing that’s to ensure that any beneficial organisms that might be in the juice are still there. I am by no means an expert, but that is my educated guess :). I’d recommend checking out the Wild Fermentation forum if you haven’t already. TONS of great info: http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/
After the E coli outbreak in the mid ’90s it became very difficult to get unpasteurized apple cider. It’s worth adding a bit of yeast to pasteurized (baking will work fine, though you may end up happier with the taste from yeast from a brewers’ store) to get it started quicker, as once the yeast get going they discourage other less pleasant bugs. There’s yeast in the air which will eventually work, but maybe not until after other bugs have turned it icky.
Great tips! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
So, we made Agua de Sandia from a giant CSA watermelon a few weeks ago. We didn’t get through all of it (it was a 32 lb. watermelon!), and now I’m starting to see some bubbles on the top of the remaining juice. I think it’s starting to ferment in our refrigerator.
I admit, I’m intrigued by the idea of watermelon cider. But I’m also worried about bad bacteria. So my first question is: is this fermenting cider safe to drink? Or should I throw it out?
And if it is safe, what can I do to encourage it in the right direction? Add yeast? Add some honey? We added very little sugar originally, it was such a sweet watermelon.
Hi Jackie – I am sorry it took me so long to reply! I am not sure about this and don’t really know enough to advise! Sorry! 🙁
If your leftover juice started fermenting in the fridge and you have a very clean vessel it was in and very clean kitchen it should be safe to continue letting ferment and drink. I’ve worked as a biochemist of and on for 20 years, and often find things that are VERY sweet naturally, if were put into containers on a warm day then fridged … can still ferment. If you have it the door or front of the fridge and the door is opened a lot it will alternatingly get warm and cold. The key is looking at the foam and checking for mold, like yellow, white, or black dots. Skim those.
How awesome is this post?!! I love this information.
Thanks Lori!! 🙂
I just love your blogs on fermenting. It’s new to me. I’m going to try making hard cider as my first project. All the folks who answered you really were helpful too! Thanks to all of you! I plan on using a plastic water jug as a carboy. Is there some reason that would be bad? I was able to get some proper cider yeast. Now, I’m trying to figure out if it needs sugar added. I also plan to make up some cider vinegar from the alcohol.
Hi SJ – You know, I am absolutely no help on this one! The spontaneous cider is the only beverage I’ve fermented, other than kombucha and water kefir. Hopefully another reader can tune in and offer some suggestions! 🙂
plastic water jugs let in oxygen, though this “spontaneous brewing” thing doesn’t seem too worried about that…call me the over obsessed brewer but I typically insist on glass or at least a food grade plastic fermenter. another concern is if you’re going to be reusing the container-the softer non food grade material will gouge and leave little pockets for your uglies to hang out in (uglies ruin booze)
Does wild fermentation mention any thing about it being possible to do this with other unpasturized juices as well? And if so, can you mix different fruit juices together (apple & grape perhaps since they are both commonly used for fermenting)?
Dunori – I don’t remember if it did, and I for the life of me can’t find my copy, but I would think that you could. Perhaps try a small batch and see what happens? If you do, let me know how it goes! If I find the book, I will see what he says.
Did you prime your cider before bottling? If so, home much dextrose (or other sugar?) did you add?
I’ve run a few batches of apple and pineapple ciders over the past 2 years. My very first batch was bottled in those same Bormioli swing-top clear glass bottles and they ALL broke during 2nd fermntation/priming. I don’t think these bottles are thick enough to handle the added pressure. I’ve since switched to using old Grolsch green glass swing-top bottles (bought for $2.50 each and full of beer; cheaper than buying them empty from a hoembrew supplier). I’ve also read that thicker IKEA swing-top glass bottles have worked, too, but they are clear and not ideal for long-term storage of ciders.
Hi there – I am not sure what you mean by “prime”. I am definitely not an expert and savvy to the brew ling. I did do a second ferment with it, but it was just the straight cider. It got pretty strong. I also use the Grolsch bottles. I think they’re the best out there. 🙂
Simple rule of thumb, 1oz of primer per gallon.
Though with cider, if ur NOT using campden tablets I’d go about
1/2 oz per gallon
Thanks for the tip!!! 🙂
I asked my wife to juice a box of apples that we got at our local farmers market because they were bruised and getting soft. I searched online and found your site about making fermented hard cider. Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks for stopping by Mark! I hope you enjoy the cider! 🙂
My grandpa used to make hard cider. I don’t know what his recipe was but we grew up on it. As children 5 of us closely aged cousins would ask grandpa for some “juice” he would give us BIG tumblers full of “apple jack” it was actually really yummy and we used to behave pretty well for grandpa because we were all sleepy from hard cider. Not that I am encouraging getting your kids high on cider but these are some of my happy childhood memories. It’s a shame that none of us has grandpa’s recipe. I may try to make some cider myself.
Hi Nichole – Thanks for sharing that great story! That sounds like something my family would do! 🙂 I think Grandpa had an ulterior motive, huh? Sleepy kids are much easier to watch! 🙂
I love all of the information and stories for people; this is what it’s all about 🙂
Have you tried to add a few water kefir grains to the cider? I’ve read that this would kick start the ferment and give some added probiotics. I am going to do some experimenting and will let you know how it goes.
Take care everyone!
Hi Troy – I have not tried that. I’ll add it to my list! 🙂
I was just searching for answers about the apple cider I buy that gets a slightly moldy smell or taste after a few days. Not that am trying to ferment it but, I just wonder if it is still safe to drink when you smell mold. Any ideas? Thanks,
Hi Wendy – If you suspect there is mold, I would not drink it. Fresh apple cider will go bad faster than pasteurized, however, I’ve always had it last for a week or so without any off smelling. Hope that helps!
What if I have pasteurized apple cider will it still work?
Hi Austin – Pasteurized apple cider won’t work, as it won’t be able to cultivate any good bacteria and yeasts. The pasteurization process kills all of the microorganisms needed for proper fermentation. Hope that helps!
Did you ever end up testing it to see what the alcohol content was?
Hi Stacey – No, I never did get around to testing it. Next time I make it, I will try to remember to do that!
Can I use thus same process with pears? I have an abundance this year and want to juice them and was hoping for some good bacteria to go with it.
HI Emily – I’ve never used pears before, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Just juice them and use the juice in place of the apple cider in the recipe. If you do make it, let me know how it turns out. I think it will be delicious! 🙂
Hi Jessica, I made apple juice from fresh transparent apples and put the juice in gallon glass jars trying to make hard cider. That was six days ago and nothing is happening. It tastes like apple juice,but no fermentation at all. the juice has been stored in the dark and around 65deg.What am I doing wrong?
Hi Jeff – I am not sure! I have always had it start fermenting within 24 hours. It could be a number of things. I’d recommend checking out the Wild Fermentation forum: http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/. Lots of great info over there and they probably have some stuff already posted on the apple cider. I’ve learned a lot on that site!
Not sure if anyone asked this already, but is there any risk of botulism?
Hi Mo – In all of my many years of fermenting, I have never once had any issues with botulism. Sandor Katz addresses this very question in an article and YouTube video:
Hope that helps!
Thank you. I really appreciate it!!
After watching the video I am no longer worried about botulism—however, do I need to worry about having a bad hair cut? LOL. Thanks again!
Hi, I just started learning about fermentation and probiotics. I have organic apples but can’t seem to find out if I need (or can) use a champion juicer, squeezo or steam juicer to make the apple juice. Thanks for your help.
Janyce – You will want to use fresh, unpasteurized (heated) juice, so using your Champion should work nicely! Enjoy!
Hey there, just started the process for this cider, i juiced my own apples. My question is, does this have to sit out in the light, or can I put it in my cabinet while it is fermenting? We have fruit flies something awful this year, don’t want this fermentation to attract more.
Hi Jen – No light is needed. Placing it in a cabinet would be OK, but you do want to have some airflow, so maybe keep the cabinet door cracked a little. Hope it turns out well!
Awesome, thanks! It’s starting to look great! It has nice dark brown foam and some bubbles! And no sign of mold!! Yay!
Hope it turns out well! 🙂
Hoping this question will be seen and answered. We just made this lat week. Tastes fabulous. We’d like to make a bunch more. When storing can you keep it in a pantry does it have to be in the fridge? We’d like be able to enjoy it all winter long but don’t have that much room in our fridge. Thanks
Bambi – You could probably store it at room temp, but I would be concerned about the continued fermentation and the amount of pressure that would build up in the bottles. I would recommend moving it to cold storage to prevent an explosion from happening. Also, the longer it sits, the stronger it will get. Refrigeration does slow that down quite a bit though. Hope that helps and so glad you liked it! 🙂
We get unpasteurized cider from our annual apple trip to the mountains of NC, each year. I’ve never liked it hard but my mother does. We’ve always left it in the refrigerator though, takes a little longer but it will turn. I usually have about 2 cups left when it gets past the point I will drink. I just leave it in there and let it continue to turn (2 years was the longest, it turned clear with sediment at the bottom). When I pan fry a chicken breast I will sometimes use it instead of oil, keeps it from sticking, drying out and tenderizes it all at the same time
YUM! I love the idea of using it with chicken. I bet that is tasty! 🙂
SO is apple cider just what we Aussies call apple juice? Apple cider to us is sold in the Bottle Shops and is alcoholic.
Hi Raelene – Apple cider (also called sweet cider or soft cider) is the name used in the United States and parts of Canada for an unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic beverage made from apples, usually from specializing cider apples. This untreated cider is a seasonally produced drink of limited shelf-life that is typically available only in fall, although it is sometimes frozen for use throughout the year. It is traditionally served on the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and various New Year’s Eve holidays, sometimes heated and mulled. In the case of this recipe, you would use the apple cider to ferment and make an alcoholic beverage called “hard apple cider”. The “hard” means that it is alcoholic.
I started this with half organic pressed apples (with a juicer) and the other half normal store bought organic cider… I just covered it with a cheesecloth and a rubber band… BUT! after 2 days I saw there’s quite a lot of white-blueish mold forming on top. I just scooped it off but should I toss this out or just go on?
Hi Paul – Sorry to hear about the mold. 🙁 Mold is one of those topics where you have people on both sides of the fence. Some people scrape off the mold and continue to eat it. Others don’t risk it, especially if they are suffering from leaky gut, food allergies, etc. (mold can make those much worse). It really depends on what camp you’re in. I personally do not eat food that has molded because I am working to heal my autoimmune disease and leaky gut and need to be extra cautious with any sort of contamination. Check the Wild Fermentation forums – there are lots of discussions on the safety of eating ferments that have molded and we must each make our own decisions as to how we handle it. Happy fermenting! 🙂
I’m curious if I can drink some apple juice that hasn’t been refrigerated in weeks. It’s the Martinelli’s pasteurized in a large glass jug, I drank more than half of it before it ended up sitting out. It’s currently bubbling. Do you have any suggestions?
Hi Sydney – I personally would not drink it. If it has been pasteurized, any good bacteria would have been killed and it has most likely gone bad by sitting out. This recipe specifically requires fresh, unpasteurized apple juice for this reason.
Hi- my cider has been fermenting for. 7 days and there are still quite a bit of bubbles on top-is it okay to bottle when there is still foam on top?
Hi Colista – Yes, it should be. When I bottled mine, it still had quite a bit of foam on the top. Happy fermenting! 🙂
SO much to learn from you.
Awww, thank you Karen! So glad the info is helpful! 🙂
I was fortunate enough to be able to make fresh apple cider from my neighbor’s tree. I canned it in Ball jars around two months ago and it seems to be keeping, as the recipe said. I went down to my basement, where I keep the jars, today to get a couple jars to drink during the holiday. I noticed that one of the jars lids was pushed up and the cider was much clearer than the rest. Fearing the jar would rupture I opened it then and found that the cider had become quite alcoholic. As far as I know, the rest of the batch has not fermented so drastically. I was wondering why this one jar had become so effervescent and fermented when the others did not, and is it safe to drink.
Much appreciated, happy holidays.
Hi John! Thanks for stopping by! That is awesome that you were able to make the fresh cider. YUM! This does get quite alcoholic, especially if it sits for any amount of time. I am honestly not sure why one jar would be so different than the others. I would recommend asking on Sandor’s forum, as they have a ton of fermentation experts over there: http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/. This recipe is actually out of his book Wild Fermentation and I know there is an alcohol section of the forum. Hope that helps! 🙂
according to what I have studied I see that there are two types: pasteurized and unpasteurized, what is the shelf life for both, do they have different shelf life? Or let me say what is the expiring date.. I want to buy Brad’s apple cider vinegar, but I want to know how long it will remain potent.
Hi Abiiba! Vinegars have a long shelf-life (indefinitely according to some people). Each bottle should have an expiration date printed on the jar. Braggs states that their shelf life is 5 years, but that it can be safely used for many years after that. Hope that helps! 🙂
Sorry I mean Bragg’s not Brad
What do you mean when you say you bottled it? Is there another process that you use for that? Or do you mean you just poured it into another bottle and capped it?
Hi Renee! It simply means that I poured it into my flip-top Grolsch style bottles and put it in the fridge! Hope that helps! 🙂
I have had both apple juice and grape juice accidentally ferment before. I’ve never tried to do it myself though. I’d love to try this! I have a couple questions though…
All I can get is pasteurized apple cider and apple juice which has a label on it that says it is 100% apple juice and doesn’t say that it’s pasteurized, but has Ascorbic Acid in it. I could try using the cider and see what happens, or I could just use the apple juice instead. What do you think? Also, do you think I could substitute something like a paper towel or something of that sort in place of cheesecloth? Just curious… I hope I’m not bothersome with too many questions. 🙂
Hi Rebecca! Thanks for stopping by! You will need unpasteurized and a pure product (no additives at all) for this. Yes, a paper towel would work in place of the cheesecloth too! Happy fermenting! 🙂
I have some accidentally fermented cider in my fridge, (it sat out for 1 day, then refrigerated and it has continued to ferment). I just bought a couple fresh bushels of apples to make applesauce for my kids. Do you think the fermented cider would be ok to use as the liquid when cooking the applesauce? I normally use fresh cider, just not sure how the fermented stuff would be?
Hi Kelli – I don’t think there would be an issue with using it. The heating is going to kill all the probiotics, so there wouldn’t be any probiotic benefits left. Does it smell and taste OK? Every fermenting guru I follow says the golden rule is taste and smell when it comes to whether a ferment is safe or spoiled. I can’t imagine that it has spoiled with that little of time outside the fridge. If it were me, I would have no issues using it. It would be a shame to waste it! 🙂
Just had to thank you for giving a name to the drink which we accidentally made 🙂 Spontaneous Hard Cider! I can almost see the label and an appropriate logo on the bottle… We have lots of apple trees and at this time of year my Significant Other is constantly juicing. October means picking and washing apples, and then begging for suitable containers to squirrel away all the delicious fresh juice he extracts. We freeze some, refrigerate some, drink some and this year, left some in our (unheated northern English) dining room. Having moved a bottle from the dining room into the fridge yesterday and drunk some last night, I was amazed at the fizz and taste. It was deliciously sweet, tart and mildly alcoholic but this morning I was worrying in case it is unhealthy, hence googling upon your article. I am reassured and inspired, thank you :-)))
Hi Sue! Awesome! What a happy little accident! 🙂 I can’t take credit for it as I learned about this from the fermenting guru himself, Sandor Katz. I am so happy you stumbled upon the post! Enjoy your harvest! 🙂
Question for you.
I bought “apple juice cocktail” instead of apple juice many months ago and I thought it was terrible, so I didn’t drink it. I also didn’t throw it out. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a dramatic change in color. It is in the plastic container it was sold in at the grocery store and I left the lid on. The color has gone from very light to very dark. If this has turned into a cider, then I’m kind of excited to drink it and see if I made this horrible, undrinkable juice into a nice boozy cider. If its turned into a vinegar then its not really doing any harm, but maybe I should use it as a cooking aid? If on the other hand its become a bacterial cesspool that will make me sick then I don’t want to touch it. Do you know which of these is the most likely and how I can figure it out so that I know what to do with it. Do you think there’s any danger in just tasting it and seeing if its drinkable?
Thanks for this post! It’s the best thing I’ve found on fermentation of juices in my googling.
Hi Corey – I’m not sure what the ingredients were in the “cocktail” or if it was a truly raw product. If it was not raw or has added ingredients then it is likely spoiled and not fermented. You need the product to be 100% raw in order to make this ferment work. All of the fermenting gurus I follow say to go by your nose and your taste when it comes to ferments. If it smells or tastes off even the slightest, it is likely spoiled. I personally can’t tell you one way or the other if it’s spoiled or safe. I’d say go with your gut. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
So, I have a large bag of leftover apples I am planning on juicing to make hard cider. They are Pink Lady, so very tart. Wondering if adding some sugar to the mix at the beginning of the ferment process would be ok? Or, would it alter the whole process?
Hi Brynn – I’ve never made it with added sugar so you might check out the Wild Fermentation forums for help on that: http://www.wildfermentationforum.com/index.php?sid=b9f2b6c9f20a6cec90162eb50d94908b. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Hello, I left cold press apple juice in little glass flip top bottles like the one in your picture in my fridge for about a year. Do you think it’s safe to drink? It smells tasty in a hard apple cider kind of way.
Hi Elise! Thanks for stopping by! I can’t really say one way or the other without seeing it myself, but it’s likely going to be STROOOOOOOOOOONG if it’s been fermenting that long. It may actually be too strong to drink. All fermenting experts have told me that you should always go by your nose when it comes to ferments. If it smells off (or tastes off) in any way, then it’s best to just toss it. One time I found a bottle of water kefir in the back of my fridge that had been fermenting for 6 months or so and it was inedible. Far too much alcohol in it, so I am guessing yours may be the same. Hope that helps! 🙂
Drink away. If it tastes good its fine. Same principle as aging wine, and if its in a sealed container it will be sparkling like prosecco. Longer bottle aging on the lees (the dead yeasts on the bottom) will slowly change the flavor profile. Refrigeration temp slows the reaction, but it does slowly continue.
Ciders tend to have an inverse bell flavor profile as they age. They taste good freshly fermented, then go to a semi-off taste for a period, then start to improve as the tannins soften. Fresh ferment is a cider, but extended aging is fruit wine. As long as it tastes and smells good, keep it going. If it goes too long and starts getting sour, use it as vinegar.
Is there any danger in doing it this way? I always see the process of this to be a lot harder then you did it. So is there any danger of making a drink that could make me or anyone that drinks this sick?
Hi Jeremy! I’ve been fermenting since 2010 and have never gotten sick from any of mine. When done properly (i.e. in clean and sanitary conditions), there are rarely any problems. You might check out Sandor Katz’s forum (his book is where I learned about this process) for more info: http://www.wildfermentation.com. He has a very active group of experts over there.
Instead of using pre-made apple cider or juicing apples, can you just blend apples, orange, spices, and water? Apple cider is not easily available in the Middle East (I grew up down the street from an apple orchard in Ohio, so I miss fresh apple cider), and juicing apples gets rid of all the healthy fiber, etc). Maybe the blended apple cider would create more mold possibilities? Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
Hi Mary – That’s a great question and I’m not 100% sure as I’ve never done it. This wouldn’t be much different than fermenting a chutney or relish so I don’t think mold would be a big issue as long as it doesn’t get contaminated somehow. I would recommend checking out the Wild Fermentation forums. It is such a great resource and full of people from all over the world who might have some tips for you. 🙂
If you bottled it in clean mason jars could you add some sliced apples ??
Hi Shawn – I haven’t tried it, but that should work.