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Sparkling Cider and Hard Cider with Water Kefir Grains

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One of my favorite things this time of year, besides pumpkin flavored everything, is apple cider.  Back home in Minnesota, we had a number of apple orchards to choose from to visit each year.  Not so much here in North Dakota (anyone want to start an apple orchard here?).  There are still plenty of organic local apples to be had if you look hard enough.  Your neighbors are your best bet.

We planted 4 apple trees 2 years ago and are still waiting for them to produce fruit.  Hopefully next year?  In the meantime, I was able to score a bushel here and there.  Enough to make lots of apple sauce and a gallon of apple cider.  I’ll have to make a visit home soon to pick up more fresh apple cider to play with.  Some for hard cider, some for Apple Cider Vinegar.

One question I get asked frequently is concerning the alcohol level of water kefir and kombucha.  When made correctly, they shouldn’t have more than 0.5% alcohol, a low enough level that I do feel comfortable serving small amounts to my children.  Sometimes people want to make them alcoholic on purpose and it’s actually quite easy to do.  It’s all about sugar content.  Use too much sugar and you get alcohol.

Apple juice contains more sugar than the typical recipe for water kefir which is why it turns alcoholic pretty fast.  I measured the specific gravity of my apple cider and it had almost twice the sugar of my water kefir mixture.  Diluting the apple juice is one way to make it non-alcoholic.  The other say is to ferment it for a shorter period of time but then you end up with quite a sugary drink.

 

Stopper Airlock on One Gallon Jug.


Sparkling Cider (mostly alcohol free)

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cup filtered water
  • minerals (Concentrace, clean egg shell, or 1 tsp molasses)
  • 1/4 cup water kefir grains
  • Optional: cinnamon stick and 2 cloves
Apple cider can contain twice as much such as my normal water kefir solution, which is 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 quart of water.  Adding water to the apple cider lowers the sugar content making it less likely to become alcoholic.  Mix apple cider, water and minerals (I use a quick squirt of Concentrace in mine) in your anaerobic jar like a Pickl-it or a glass jug like pictured.  Add kefir grains.  Don’t forget to fill your airlock with water.  Let set for about 24 hours.  Strain off kefir grains and bottle the apple cider in swing top bottles or capped beer bottles.  Let set another 12-24 hours to build up carbonation.  Refrigerate and enjoy!

Hard Cider

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • minerals (Concentrace, clean egg shell, or 1 tsp molasses)
  • 1/4 cup water kefir grains
  • Optional: cinnamon stick and 2 cloves

Mix apple cider and minerals (I use a quick squirt of Concentrace in mine) in your anaerobic jar like a Pickl-it or a glass jug like pictured.  Add kefir grains.  Don’t forget to fill your airlock with water.

To make the cider less alcoholic, ferment for a shorter time, 12-24 hours for a less alcoholic drink.  For more alcohol, extend the time.  To keep your grains healthy, I wouldn’t suggest letting it go longer than 48 hrs.  If after 48 hours, you would still like it stronger, remove the grains but let the cider sit out longer with the airlock in place until at the desired strength.  Bottle, let set out another day to build carbonation, refrigerate and enjoy!

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