The basics: Wash and crush the apples, then press the pulp and put the juice in 5-gallon carboys, adding the yeast. Wait about seven days for the cider to ferment and another one to three months to age.
The home cook: Sometimes bounty can be a problem, like the Gravenstein apple tree in publicist Emily Collins Kell’s backyard that is laden with fruit in midsummer. You could say that Emily’s gourmet art kind of fell into her lap. “You can eat and give away only so much apple butter,” she says. So a few years ago, she took on the craft of hard cider. She rented an apple mill and press, then perfected her recipe by adding Champagne yeast to the batches. The cider is ready in time for the holidays, and it’s great with rustic, comforting meals.
About that first batch … She borrowed an old grape crusher from a nearby winery, only to have it disintegrate. “So I used a sledgehammer to finish crushing the apples,” Emily says. “The result was blisters, a sore back, and a small yield.”