This is a recipe for a wild fermentation, taking advantage of the natural yeasts present on organic fruit and in the air. This is the oldest form of fermentation, before the intervention of pasteurization, commercial yeasts and additives. Although wild yeasts can produce inconsistent results, we find it a fun way to lean into the wild side of fermentation and have always enjoyed the varying flavors of our batches!
(Yield: one gallon)
1 gallon of unpasteurized, raw apple juice (fresh pressed or store/farm bought)
Note: This recipe will not work with pasteurized store bought cider.
1 gallon wide-mouth jar
BOTTLING TOOLS Pressurized glass bottles (if carbonating)
Note: Make sure you are using clean equipment at every stage. Sanitizer is not necessary since this is a wild ferment, however you may choose to use it to minimize cross contamination.
Add your fresh, raw juice to your gallon wide mouth jar. Leave a couple inches of headspace from the top of the jar. Cover with a cloth to keep out fruit flies, and store out of direct sunlight. Stir a couple times a day to activate the wild yeasts. After a few days (depending on temperature of your kitchen and the natural yeasts) the cider will start to bubble vigorously. Once you see vigorous bubbles, transfer the cider into your 1 gallon jug with airlock lid.
Ferment with an airlock for 1-2 weeks. After 2 weeks, you shouldn't see any further bubbling through the airlock. Set a timer for 2 minutes and watch for bubbles. You can also taste a sample of the cider, it should taste dry, with no residual sugar. At this point you can rack (siphon) directly into bottles, or rack (siphon) the cider into a new, clean gallon jug for another couple weeks. This is an optional transfer, but it helps age and clarify the cider, removing it from the spent yeast (lees) at the bottom of the jug that can cause off flavors. To "rack", use an auto-siphon and/or tubing to transfer the cider, siphoning above the sludgy sediment on the bottom of your vessel.
If you'd like to carbonate your cider, before transferring into pressurized bottles, dissolve an 1/8 cup of corn sugar or brown sugar in 1/2 cup of boiled water. Add it to your fermented cider, stirring to integrate. Then transfer to bottles and let them sit out at room temperature for an additional 2 weeks to build carbonation. .