Cider can be carbonated or still and range in style from really dry, to very sweet. In Europe, “cider” refers to alcoholic fermented apple juice. In the US, fermented apple juice is known as hard cider & unfermented apple juice is called sweet cider. There are many terms used to describe cider. Here are some of them.
Cider is made from fermented apple juice. There are also variations of cider made with added honey or other fruits each with it's own name (see below).
Traditionally, cider is be made from particular types of apples, often containing high levels of tannin & the best ciders are generally made from blends of several different cider apples. Cider apples can be hard to find but don't worry about that because you can use all types of apples and apple concentrates too. Actually, it is rewarding & fun to experiment with different apples.
In the past, the wild yeast on the fruit was used to make juice ferment. Some traditionalists still use this method but with the availability of good quality yeasts, brewing yeast cultures are now widely used thus producing consistently good quality ciders.
These days it is possible to make really good cider from cider kits in a can (similar to beer kits). There are a few different kits on the market, some are terrific & some are not so good. The Black Rock brand kits are excellent.
You can also buy the wonderful Brewcraft Irish cider recipe kits (sweet or dry) which are based on the Black Rock kit but with added ingredients to give you an absolutely superb end result.
Both recipes include the excellent Black Rock Cider kit with the addition of a bottle of Top Shelf Apple Schnapps essence & a Brewcraft #15 Brewblend (dextrose, malt & corn syrup). The sweet cider recipe also includes 500g of lactose.
Adding the Top Shelf essence makes a remarkable difference to these recipes. You can make other amazing ciders by adding Top Shelf Peach Schnapps, Apricot Brandy or Orange Brandy essences. Each one gives you a delicious unique cider & you can add one or more bottles of essence according to your own taste.