How To Make Hard Cider (with Just Your EBT Card)

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How To Make Hard Cider


Like many of my fellow boozehounds, in recent years I’ve moved away from heavy, hoppy beers, and grown to love a crisp, dry cider. Brands like Golden State or Far West Cider have enjoyed huge booms in business, cashing in on the gluten-free and low-carb diets. I am neither of those pretentious things, I just really like getting drunk on apple juice.

The issue is, the price of everything is out of control. The gas to get to the store to buy yourself some delicious craft cider is pocket-breaking already, not to mention upwards of $15 for a four pack just to catch a buzz. So I came up with a solution: make cider at home!

Now as a broke-ass-person, I would be remiss if I didn’t add: all of these cider ingredients can be purchased with food stamps. In their infinite wisdom, the government only allows you to purchase certain things with your food stamps. Some of the things you can’t buy, I wholeheartedly agree with. For example, the no-alcohol rule. Some of their rules I do not agree with, such as no hot food items at the grocery store, or no household basics like toilet paper or soap. If you are trying to feed a family easily and cheaply, a hot rotisserie chicken sounds like one of the best options, and if you are trying to clean up for a job interview, soap would probably help.

So to be clear, I am not advocating using your food stamps to purchase fruit, yeast, etc., I simply pointing out that you could. After all it’s the holidays, and Jesus himself turned water (food stamp applicable) into wine (non-food stamp applicable). So if you were to commit the very cool crime of making alcohol out things you put on EBT, you would just be being Christ like.

Homemade hard cider is a perfect holiday craft, and costs seriously next to nothing to make (or nothing if you are using food stamps, hypothetically), and is always well received by friends and family for the winter holidays. Below is a very basic cider recipe that anyone can pull off at home, and will yield a delicious, dry, and tangy cider.

You Will Need:

  • Sanitizer (iodine works fine)
  • Large Pot
  • Ladle
  • Container for fermentation (the apple juice container, a big glass jug, a plastic bucket with a lid, etc.)
  • Funnel
  • Thermometer
  • Flip top bottles (or mason jars)
  • 1 gallon 100% apple juice with no preservatives (citric acid is ok but not recommended
  • 1 lb. brown sugar
  • 1/2 packet bakers yeast (use fancier yeast from a brewing store if you’d like, but they don’t accept EBT)
  • 10-20 raisins
  • A plastic tube, or a siphon
  • A friend

How To Make Hard Cider

  1. Heat apple juice and sugar in a large pot until sugar is fully dissolved, allow to cool to 90 degrees.
  2. Pitch 1/2 of yeast packet into 2 oz. distilled or previously boiled water (tap water will introduce wild bacteria that can funk it up.
  3. Transfer apple syrup, yeast, and raisins to your sanitized fermentation container, and leave the lid slightly ajar!
    (Note: if you seal the lid tight, the container can and will explode/spray apple syrup and yeast all over your kitchen, don’t do this!)
  4. Transfer container to a warm (50 to 80 degrees) part of your apartment (or house… if you fancy) and allow to ferment for2-3 weeks, or until bubbling and foaming has mostly subsided.
  5. Siphon your fermented apple juice into pre-sanitized containers (bottles or mason jars), making an effort to avoid the thicker residue at the bottom of the fermentation container.
  6. Allow to rest in the bottles for at least a week, and up to a year!
  7. Enjoy!

Note: Play around with the recipe! Add winter spices, use a combination of juices, use different sugars or even maple syrup, really anything you can get with your EBT card! Happy broke-ass holidays to you and yours!

Disclaimer: Home manufacturing of cider for personal use is legal in CA. It’s illegal to sell it.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.