Let’s Get This Bubbling: Brewing Frugal Homemade Cider.

Why hello, and welcome! This is a new adventure for me, and I’m happy to see you’ve decided to join me. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?

You know, I’ve been agonizing for some time over the topic of this first post, and I found myself building up a wall of intimidation and fear over what others, specifically YOU, may think about it. It’s time to get past those feelings and to just start posting about topics I find interesting. As a close and personal friend of mine would say…”HERE WE GOOOO!

First off, a little background. I’m Canadian. Born and raised. I live out on the East Coast, and have called the Maritimes my home for almost three decades. Not only does Canada tend have higher beer, wine and alcohol prices across the board, but the East Coast can be even less friendly in this arena because of the Crown Corporations that generally control our access to it. Now, I’ve only been seriously tracking my income/expenses for 2.5 months now (thanks to “Your Money or Your Life“) but after only the first month it became quite obvious that an uncomfortable amount was being spent on alcohol. I honestly didn’t, and still don’t, feel like I was drinking too much. Maybe others would disagree, but the monthly “bill” for the drinks was sobering. I rarely, if ever, go out to drink. I already find liquor store prices intimidating, so bar prices are just outright ridiculous and out of the question. The mission was on. I had to, if I wanted to continue numbing my senses, find a way to reduce the cost significantly. I know you’re probably sayin’, “Hey, you Frugal dumb Bastard, you can go to those ‘brew your own’ shops and save a bundle on wine and beer!” which is cool, and I totally support this idea, but I wanted to take it as far as possible. Turns out this is absolutely insanely easy to accomplish. The answer? apple juice. Yup, it’s as easy as that. It’s all you need, and you can get it on the cheap! This is what you do:

First, rifle through your change and dig up $4.59.

Second, head down to your local Atlantic Superstore and find the juice aisle.

Third, pick up one of these bad boys:

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You know it’s the beez-kneez because it’s the “Fancy Grade.” YUM!

and head for the cash register.

Fourth, head to your local wine/beer brewing store (if you don’t have one in your neighbourhood then check out Ebay.ca or Amazon.ca) and grab a few packs of champagne/wine yeast for $0.99 each. I use this brand:

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Getting too complicated? Well, guess what, you’re done! Return home with your loot and prepare to become a brew master.

Alright, so, here we go. It’s brew time.

Crack open the apple juice and pour out a small amount. Just enough to allow some room for the carbonation bubbly bubbles (you don’t want your tincture to overflow once the magic starts happening.) I’m talking like two or three mouthfuls. If you’re worried that you’ll misjudge just dump out some extra, it can be added back in after a day or two. By then you’ll have an idea of how much room the bubbly bubbles will require.

Next, grab a mug and pour in some luke warm water. Just a small amount, nothing crazy.

Next, open up the packet of yeast and mix in about a quarter of a teaspoon worth. Stir gently for 15 to 20 seconds to activate the yeast.

Add the yeast to the apple juice, put the cap back on tight, and give the thing a little bit of a shake. This will help mix the yeast in nice and evenly.

Lastly, unscrew the cap and let it sit loosely. The yeast is going to start turning the sugar into alcohol, and you need to allow some way for the gasses to escape. By leaving the cap on loosely this will do just that, while keeping the precious cargo safe.

Wait 4 to 10 days.

The finished product. Six days of fermenting. Filtered.

The finished product. Six days of fermenting. Filtered.

The finished product. Four days of fermenting. Unfiltered.

The finished product. Four days of fermenting. Unfiltered.

BAM! You’ve just brewed up about ten, 12 oz bottles worth of 5.2 to 6% percent hard cider for a whopping $5.61. Considering a 12 pack of our “budget” beer out here will run you just shy of $20 I’d say we’re off to a frugalicious start!

 

 

 

One thing I would recommend, though not totally necessary, is filtering the finished cider into another jug. Me and the Mrs. ran out to Sobeys and bought a reusable coffee filter for $1.99. This, combined with a funnel from the local Dollarama, seems to filter out enough of the thicker yeast to keep us happy.

It’s key to remember that yeast can be reused as well. So, that one packet you bought can be divided into 3 or 4 batches, and then from here on out you can keep brewing with it. Simply leave a little bit of the cider at the very bottom of the jug so the yeast has a watery world in which to continue its’ existence. Next time you rundown to the Superstore for another gallon just open ‘er up and dump the juice back into that same jug.

Obviously this is not a new idea, and there’s lots of info out there on the topic of home brew, but when I came across the idea a month or so ago I was in disbelief. I found myself thinking, “Damn! I could have been the KING of high school with this trick.*” So, I can only assume there’s many other folks out there who could benefit from this most ultimate tip from the Land of Frugaliciousness.

Sincerely,
The Frugster

* The Frugal Bastard in no way endorses providing alcohol to minors. The legal drinking age is in place for a reason, and I support it. I personally didn’t begin drinking until I was over the legal age.

 

 

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