Hard Apple Cider with Wild Yeast

Posted on Aug 8, 2013 in Blog, Fermentation, Recipes | 4 comments

Hard Apple Cider with Wild Yeast

My first attempt at homemade hard apple cider with wild yeast has been bottled and is ready for consumption! I started this process several months ago with a gallon of store-bought apple juice in a glass jug. I’m pleased to say that my final product is slightly sweet with a mellow, bubbly finish.

Hard cider can be made with either wild yeast or the packaged yeast of your choosing. If you’d like to ensure that your final product is reproducible, go with packaged yeast. I recommend using a champagne yeast like this one!

hard cider wild yeast

Catching Wild Yeast

If you are up for a bit of an adventure, you can make hard cider with wild yeast. The process is quite simple: leave the cider open on the counter, covered lightly with cheesecloth, for several days until some wild yeast finds its way into the bottle. You’ll know that you’re in business because the juice will begin to bubble and fizz. When you can see bubbles rising to the top of the bottle, you know that wild yeast have begun to consume the sugar in your juice and turn it into alcohol.

At this point it’s time to cover your bottle with an airlock, which will let the bubbles out, but won’t let anything else in, effectively keeping the brewing environment sterile.

Making Hard Apple Cider with Wild Yeast

The cider has “caught” some wild yeast and has begun to bubble

 Primary Fermentation

Once your cider is fitted with an airlock, the waiting game begins. You’ll see bubbles release quickly at first and eventually more slowly from the jug. After about 2-4 weeks (depending on the temperature in your home), the bubbles will slow and it’ll be time to rack your cider!

Organic apple juice can easily be made into homemade hard cider. Learn how now!

Choose an organic apple juice or cider to start with. Make sure there are no preservatives in the bottle!


Racking is a process whereby the cider is siphoned out of the glass jug and into a new vessel (or back into the same vessel after its been cleaned). The purpose of racking is to get rid of the layer of yeast sediment (lees) that has been deposited at the bottom of your fermentation jug. This sediment can give an off-taste to your cider, so it’s best to leave it behind for the next step. Racking is most easy (and also most sterile) when done with a siphon pump and some tubing but can also but done with just the tubing and your mouth. Regardless of the method you choose, this step can be tricky, so I recommend doing some research first. Here are a couple of links to get you started:

The Kitchn: Siphoning Home-Brewed Beer

Wikihow: Make a Siphon

Making Hard Cider

Secondary Fermentation

Once the cider is siphoned into a second container with the lees, or dead yeast sediment left behind, it will begin its secondary fermentation. If you’d like a still (uncarbonated), dry cider like I did this process will last longer. For me, it took approximately 4 to 5 months. If you want a fizzy, sweeter cider, you can bottle your cider at any point in the brewing process.


When your cider has stopped releasing carbon dioxide bubbles, signifying the slowing of the fermentation process, it’s ready to be bottled! Use that trusty siphon to, that’s right, siphon the cider into flip-top-style bottles. You can also use a funnel and pour the cider but you run the risk of dredging up all the sediment that will have settled at the bottom of your jug and wondering if you should have caved and bought yourself a siphon. I won’t tell you which way I chose to do this.

After its been bottled, store your cider in the fridge and enjoy! Your friends are sure to be impressed, and if they are anything like mine, very polite about how it tastes (although I do think they were being honest).

Home-brewed hard cider made with wild yeast!

Bottled Cider Ready for Drinking!

A Note of Caution

You may choose to drink your cider at ANY point during the brewing process, even during the primary fermentation. However, keep in mind that if you bottle bubbly cider and store it for too long, carbonation will build up and bottles have been known to EXPLODE!!! In plastic bottles, this is a pain and a mess, but in glass bottles, this is downright dangerous. Be mindful and don’t leave carbonated cider for too long without “burping” the bottles.


The above method and recipe has been adapted from Sandor Katz’ book Wild Fermentation. This book is an amazing for anyone interested in fermentation and brewing!

If you are not of legal age to consume alcohol according to your local laws, do not attempt this! It is illegal to and breaking the law is bad.

Get Started!


  1. Thanks for the shout out — I’m glad to see someone else trying her hand at making cider!

  2. You can save the yeast (the lees) for a sourdough starter.

  3. Will you explain “burping” the bottle a little more? How often should I do it and what all does that entail?

    • Yes, the is some concern when you bottle a live-fermenting beverage and leave it at room temperature that the bottles could explode. If the fermentation process is still active, then carbon dioxide continues to develop inside the sealed bottle as a byproduct of fermentation. Move your bottles to the fridge to slow fermentation and help avoid this issue. If you leave the bottles on the counter for more than a few days, you may want to “burp” (or open briefly) the bottles to release some of the pressure. Hope this helps!


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