My wife got me this hard cider kit from Brooklyn BrewShop for Christmas:
Unfortunately apple cider was very out of season at the time. As we get back into the height of cider season, I want to tell you how easy it is to make hard cider with three (3!) ingredients and have it ready to drink in about a month.Continue reading
The Brooklyn BrewShop kit is an easy single fermentation kit that contains a gallon jug, airlock, siphon, sanitizer, and enough yeast to make three batches.
The only other thing you’ll need are bottles. I like the swing-top E-Z Cap bottles. You can get them at your local brew shop.
Like I said, this is super-simple, there are only three ingredients:
- Apple Cider with no preservatives (no potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate)
- Champagne Yeast – the kit includes 3 packets of Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast
- Honey or Fizz Drops from your local brew store
Finding apple cider with no preservatives can be tricky. I’ve noticed that almost all ciders use it. Luckily, the SugarBee brand, which is available at my local grocery store, contains no preservatives. And it makes fantastic hard cider!
Brewing is as simple as pouring in room-temperature cider and adding yeast. You should follow the kit instructions to make sure your equipment is sanitized. But it’s really as easy as pouring in a gallon of cider and a packet of yeast.
Put the airlock on and set a reminder for two weeks later. Maybe give the bottle a light shake after a week to re-activate any live yeasts that have settled to the bottom.
After two to three weeks of fermentation, we’re ready to bottle. During bottling, we want to make sure a majority of the yeast stays on the bottom and doesn’t get transferred during the bottling process. You should be carefully moving around your fermenter to keep things settled.
Before bottling, we need to decide how you’re going to add the priming sugar – are you using honey or fizz drops? If you’re using honey, follow the instructions and heat it with water. Then you need to combine it with the cider.
Since you don’t want to stir the cider in the fermenting vessel and get all the yeast off the bottom, you either have to:
- Siphon the cider into a sanitized bucket or pot and combine with the priming sugar OR
- Put equal amounts of priming sugar into your bottles.
If you’re using fizz drops, just add a drop to each bottle for 12-16oz bottles – the E-Z Cap bottles I like are 16oz, and a gallon of cider fills eight (8) of these.
Either way, watch this video on How to Bottle to get used to their simple (but effective) siphon:
I suggest following their instructions by trying out the siphon with some water first. It goes fast, so you’ll want to know how it works before spilling your precious cider (that you’ve waited weeks for) onto the floor, making a huge sticky mess.
I like to keep the jug or bucket on the counter and put my bottles on the dishwasher door while it’s open. That gives me the elevation I need for the siphon to work, and if I spill it will stay in the door, and go down the drain once I close the door when I’m done.
Bottle Conditioning and… drinking!
Leave the bottles condition at room temperature for two weeks. I like to put my E-Z Cap bottles back in the box they came in. The box will make sure no UV light gets to our cider, which can impart off flavors.
After two weeks I put one bottle in the fridge to test drink. I’ve never had to condition longer than two weeks, but in the spirit of science we must test! Once I’ve verified that the carbonation is good, I put them all in the fridge to prevent further fermentation (which can lead to explosion).
When you pour, go slowly and use the shoulder of the bottle to trap sediment (excess yeast) before it goes into the glass. Alton Brown does a darn good pour here:
There it is, from the package to your glass in one month. It’s super-easy and has turned out great every time I’ve done it.
Have you found any other brands of no preservative cider you like? Let me know in the comments!
At home, we’ve created a parody on the Tim & Eric song/skit “All The Food is Poison”
Our version is called “All The Things Are Cancelled” and it goes like this:
All the things are cancelled, all the things are cancelled!
- WGI – Cancelled!
- Drum Corps – Cancelled!
- Sportsball – Cancelled!
- State Fair – Cancelled!
- WordCamp – Cancelled?
WordCamp US 2020 was canceled, citing online event fatigue. But the organizers of WordCamp Minneapolis / St. Paul did not. Would we just be another notch in the bedpost of 2020 online event fatigue?
To be honest, the organizing team did contemplate canceling WordCamp Minneapolis / St. Paul as the Coronavirus pandemic continued to linger. But everyone agreed that pivoting to a single-day virtual event was a better idea – and we stayed the course.Continue reading
KidsCamp goes Virtual
When we had a real-life venue selected, there was an excellent computer lab available with over twenty computers. Going virtual meant re-thinking the game-plan. With WordCamp US canceled, it looks like WordCamp MSP’s KidsCamp might wind up being the only virtual KidsCamp of 2020.
Since it was uncharted territory, we cut the attendance in half, to 10 available spots. We reserved them for locals only, as our regular in-person conference is truly supposed to highlight pillars of our local community. With 80% local speakers at the conference, I think our organizers nailed it.
SWAG – Stuff We All Get. Virtual swag? 🤔 That sound silly – kids like real stuff. So we mailed the attendees some stickers and a KidsCamp Activity Book. Michelle from Marktime Media made amazing coloring books as attendee swag for WordCamp Minneapolis 2015. She repurposed that book into an evergreen KidsCamp Activity Book:
Check out the inside pages – including the first page which has a place to write down all of your new hosting and WordPress site details.
To make sure things would run smoothly, I went through the entire curriculum with my 11 year old son. We did it the same day the rest of the team was doing their streaming dry-run, two days before the live event. I even had my son go to his grandma’s and log in there via Zoom so we could simulate teaching remotely.
What did I learn from that experience? While I can power through a 3-hour zoom call with no issues, kids need to take a break. When my son asked to take a break I realized that I also was hungry, thirsty, or needed to use the restroom. So I added TAKE A BREAK in all-caps to my schedule notes in various places.
The Live Event
The day of the event went off without a hitch. We had 8 registrants and only 6 showed up. A 25% no-show rate is typical for WordCamp, so I didn’t sweat it.
We did some self-reflection and brainstorming. We talked about people we follow on YouTube and social media and what we like about them. My son cited DanTDM who plays a variety of games, not just Minecraft. When it came to self-reflection, I was pleasantly surprised that my son listed gaming as one of his interests, not just Fortnite. He wound up setting up a site with the central ideal of helping people with their gaming strategies. I likened it to Chris Lema’s mantra of Be Helpful – it warmed my heart 😍
Other kids chose different central ideas based on their interests: Animals, Music, Gaming – it was good to see a variety from the group.
We went with GoDaddy as our KidsCamp hosting sponsor, and they provided slick managed WordPress sites that didn’t require us to FTP any zip files to get started. This was one of the most important pieces of doing the camp virtually. We literally had zero technical issues to troubleshoot. 💪
One of the first things we did once we were into the WordPress dashboard was to reset our account password (GoDaddy generates a random one). We talked about password security and choosing something long-ish to make it hard to guess. This is my favorite reference for increasing password strength with length.
Then we were off, publishing an about page and our first post. Then customizing our themes to reflect our tastes.
Besides taking breaks, doing the event virtually was challenging because I wanted all of the kids to stay in sync. When you’re in a lab, it’s easy to see what screen someone is on and help them move forward.
My approach to doing it virtually was to share my screen and have everyone let me know when they’re on the same screen so we can all move forward together. It was challenging at times because some kids would give a thumbs-up on their camera, some would type “done” in chat, some would confirm aloud, and others wouldn’t respond. I left plenty of breathing room and we managed to stay together.
I’m glad we were able to put this event on, and I’m hoping dearly that we can do KidsCamp again in person at Metro State in 2021 🤞