Hard Cider from Store Bought Juice Recipe

Making hard cider with store bought commercial apple juice is probably one of the easiest ways to make a cider and perhaps alcohol in general. At least a decent tasting one.

Not everyone is lucky enough to live close to apple orchards where the freshest cider can be found. Luckily, a store bought cider such as Musselman’s Cider can be used to achieve decent homemade hard cider results! The commercially available cider is also about half the price of a fresh pressed cider and typically pasteurized which eliminates the need for campden tablets.

The most important part of this recipe is to make sure the juice does not have any preservatives.  Preservatives will not allow the yeast to flourish so you will not get any alcohol production! Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is commonly added to store bought apple juice and will not harm the cider fermentation process.

These commercial types of apple juice typically lack tannin so if you prefer the mouthfeel of tannin in your cider, consider adding a tannin powder or tannin from tea to enhance the cider. Many other flavors can be imparted to improve the flavor of this cider such as gingerberries or other fruit juices.

Five Essential Pieces of Equipment

6.5 Gallon plastic fermenter with lid
FastRack 3 Piece Airlock (Qty. 5), Clear (SY-6U6M-N283)
Fermtech Regular 24" Long Auto Siphon with 8 feet of Tubing and Clamp by Ubrewusa
Brewer's Elite Hydrometer - for Home Brew Beer, Wine, Mead and Kombucha - Deluxe Triple Scale Set, Hardcase and Cloth - Specific Gravity ABV Tester
Five Star - 6022b_ - Star San - 32 Ounce - High Foaming Sanitizer
6.5 Gallon Fermenting Bucket
3 Piece Air Lock
Auto Siphon
Hydrometer Kit
Star San Sanitizer
$25.62
$6.99
$24.00
$11.99
$22.45
6.5 Gallon plastic fermenter with lid
6.5 Gallon Fermenting Bucket
$25.62
FastRack 3 Piece Airlock (Qty. 5), Clear (SY-6U6M-N283)
3 Piece Air Lock
$6.99
Fermtech Regular 24" Long Auto Siphon with 8 feet of Tubing and Clamp by Ubrewusa
Auto Siphon
$24.00
Brewer's Elite Hydrometer - for Home Brew Beer, Wine, Mead and Kombucha - Deluxe Triple Scale Set, Hardcase and Cloth - Specific Gravity ABV Tester
Hydrometer Kit
$11.99
Five Star - 6022b_ - Star San - 32 Ounce - High Foaming Sanitizer
Star San Sanitizer
$22.45

How I Make Hard Cider With Store Bought Juice

I started with 1 gallon of Musselman’s Apple Cider that I purchased at a local grocery store. Using a hydrometer, I measured the original gravity of this juice at 1.044 which I calculated would produce around 5.5% ABV if I fermented it to near dry, or near 1.002 FG. An ABV in this range is perfect for me so I did not make any sugar additions although apple juice concentrate can be added to boost the sugar content and in turn raise the expected final ABV.

After I took a hydrometer reading I poured the cider into a one gallon carboy along with one teaspoon of yeast nutrient to ensure strong fermentation.

I then added 1/4 package of Safale S-04 ale yeast, which is one of my favorites for ciders. The flavor of the ale yeast is complementary and it does not ferment as dry as some other yeast.

Fermentation began strongly with a nice layer of krausen forming on top. The krausen settled and the yeast sank within 48 hours as the fermentation vigorously bubbled. Within 72 hours the fermentation slowed from a bubble per second to around a bubble per 30 seconds. At this point, the specific gravity measured 1.004 and within a few more days it stabilized at 1.000.

Once fermentation ended, I racked the cider to a secondary fermenter and allowed it to clear for a couple weeks.  At this point, the cider tasted quite nice and should age well.

Cider Results:

Original Gravity: 1.044
72 hours: 1.004
Final Gravity: 1.000
AVB: 5.74%

For bottling, I used 12-ounce bottles and made some experimental tannin and sweetener combinations that I am looking forward to!

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Hard Cider From Store Bought Juice

Learn how to make a delicious and simple fermented hard cider recipe at home.
Prep Time10 mins
Fermentation Time14 d
Total Time14 d
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Apple Cider, Apple Juice, Hard Cider
Yield: 5 Gallon

Materials

Instructions

  • Clean and sanitize all cider making equipment before starting.
  • Pour the Apple juice into the fermenting vessel.
  • Take a hydrometer reading to measure the original gravity and record.
  • Add yeast nutrient if desired.
  • Pour the yeast into the fermenter.
  • Close the fermenter and install an airlock filled with sanitizer.
  • Allow the cider to ferment in a cool and dark place for about two weeks.
  • Cold crash, rack and bottle.

Notes

This hard cider recipe can be multiplied for nearly any batch size but 1 gallon and 5 gallon are most common. Typically, one pack of yeast is enough for up to 5 gallons.
Once the fermenter is full and the yeast is pitched, place the cider in a cool and dark area to ferment for about two weeks. A blow-off tube may be needed as initial fermentation can produce a lot of krausen. 
After fermentation complete the cider can be cold crashed to help drop out solids.
Next, the batch can be racked into a clean and sanitized fermenter for aging or to a botting bucket for packaging. 
When ready to bottle, you can make your final adjustments such as flavoring or priming sugar.  
Follow the standard bottling or kegging procedures to package the cider. 

4 thoughts on “Hard Cider from Store Bought Juice Recipe”

  1. I’ve been making hard cider with Stater Bros apple juice which is only $3.89/gal. I’ll add 5 gallons of apple juice to a homebrew fermentation bucket and 5 cups of standard granulated sugar. The fermentation usually only lasts about 9 days to get to a FG of 1.000.
    OG = 1.070
    FG = 1.000
    9% ABV
    I will backsweeten with one 12 oz can of apple juice concentrate. This will make a dry hard cider. You can add more cans of apple juice concentrate if you prefer a sweeter cider.

    I force carbonate using a keg. So for under $25 I’m able to make 5 gallons of delicious, strong cider in only 9 days. The cider does improve with age, but I drink it as soon as fermentation is ended.

    Some dry wine yeasts that ferment well and provide good fruity taste are:
    Red Star Cotes de Blanc
    Red Star Premier Cuvee
    Red Star Premier Blanc

    I have also tried the TreeTop Honey Crisp Apple Juice which is also inexpensive and delicious.

        1. After you ferment and then if you secondary and wait till it clears you will need to add potassium sorbate 24 hours before you add any sweetener that may ferment. I use a can of concentrated apple juice or wine sweetener to taste

          Also, usually in october, Costco had great cider for hard cider making

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