If you've ever opened a can of juice that's been sitting in the back of your pantry for years, you've probably noticed that it smelled alcoholic and vinegary. Under the right conditions, the yeast found in fruit juices will turn the natural sugars into alcohol. If oxygen is introduced, the alcohol will become vinegar. While hard cider is typically made from apple cider, you can make it from juice in a pinch as long as you choose an unfiltered or lightly filtered juice with no preservatives, as these will prevent the yeast from activating.
Mix 1 oz. brewing sanitizer into 5 gallons tap water.
Soak your glass jug, funnel, airlock and measuring spoons in the solution for at least two minutes. Allow to air dry.
Rinse your hands in the sanitizing solution.
Transfer the juice into a sterilized glass jug unless you purchased it in a glass container. Ensure that the funnel you use is sterilized as well.
Pour 2 to 3 cups juice into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add the white sugar, brown sugar or honey and simmer until dissolved.
Pour the mixture back into the glass jug. More sugar equals a higher alcohol content and less sugar equals a sweeter cider.
Add 1 g. yeast and 1/4 tsp. yeast nutrient to the jug. While not necessary, the added yeast and yeast nutrient will ensure that your mixture has all it needs to ferment properly.
Cap the jug with a sterile airlock stopper. This specially made stopper, available at brewery supply stores, keeps oxygen in while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape.
Fill the airlock tube about halfway with the sterilizing solution.
Place the container in a 60 to 70 degree Fahrenheit room to ferment. You should notice bubbling within a few days. Allow the cider to sit until the bubbling stops.
Sterilize the second jug and tubing as in step 1.
Place the jug of cider on a counter or table and the empty jar on the floor.
Attach the auto siphon starter to the tubing and place it in the cider jug.
Place the other end in the empty jug.
Squeeze the siphon starter to create the siphon, and carefully transfer the cider into the clean jar. Be careful to keep the tubing a couple inches above the sediment at the bottom of the jug, as you don't want to transfer it to the new jug.
Drink your cider as is, or add apple flavoring or sugar alcohol to sweeten the drink. If you add flavoring, place the airlock back onto the jug and let it sit for three weeks before drinking.
Purchase an apple juice without any added preservatives. Apple juice is simply cider that has been pasteurized and filtered, so look for an organic brand that looks cloudy, indicating that it hasn't been filtered as heavily. Ideally, look for blends of at least three types of juices.
Add grape or raspberry juice to the apple juice for color.
Sweetening the cider with sugar after fermentation will re-activate the yeast, so use a sugar substitute or sugar alcohol instead.