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Making Hard Cider in a Dorm

So I am attempting to make my own hard cider. At my school, there is a farmers market every Thursday and at this market they sell flash pasteurized cider; the process is stopped partway through so it is clean to drink but can still ferment. Anyways I have tried (with success at about a gallon per batch) to create hard cider simply by pouring the cider into bottles, stopping the bottles with cotton balls, and leaving them in a dark corner for 4 days. In that time they fermented (smelled like yeast and alcohol so at least I think they did) so I filtered them, mixed them into a big pot, brought the mixture to 160-180 degrees, and then chilled them.

During the last batch, one bottle had a dry white collection (looked almost like baking soda) resting above the bubbles. I mixed it with the batch anyways; is that safe? Should I toss out the batch? I drank it last night and feel fine, but what do you think it was?

Also the past two batches have tasted great but tend to be very very weak, bringing me to another question: if I add yeast, say champagne yeast, before I let them sit, will this increase my alcohol yield? Also, should I add sugar with the yeast? The concoction is still very sweet with the above mentioned method.

George, you should take a look at this:


If you have seen white stuff floating on top, that is most likely a bacterial infection. It won’t kill you or anything. If the cider still tastes good, then it IS good. But just be aware that it might cause some unusual flavors later on, probably after a month or two. If you drink the cider fast then you probably won’t be able to taste a difference.

You can use champagne yeast to dry out the cider. For what it’s worth, 4 days is nowhere near a long enough time to make a good cider. Try 4 WEEKS and then see where you are at.

You can use the jug the cider came in to ferment in. Just leave the cap on loose to let the CO2 out. Or you can also use aluminum foil on the top. No need to mess around with cotton balls, although I guess it probably won’t hurt anything either.

See the link above for a lot of other pointers from me and others.


The cider comes in half gallon plastic jugs, seemingly identical to the type of plastic jug you would buy milk in. Is it okay to use that type of jug for the fermentation or should I transfer it to glass bottles?

Yes, it’s okay. It’s worked very well for me, in fact. Occasionally you might get an infection. So then, drink it fast or dump it out, buy more juice and start over. It works.

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