I didn’t exactly read directions before I started making cider and I don’t know why. I just used the stuff they gave me to add to it including the yeast and then waited until I thought it was done. Most of it wasn’t actually “done” because I bottled it and then several bottles exploded upon opening because I had added sugar to them too close to bottling. This causes carbonation and is done on purpose in a small amount if you want your cider carbonated. If you want your cider sweeter tasting you have to add an artificial sweetener like Splenda or Xylitol because the sugar will just get eaten by the yeast during fermentation.
One other horrific discovery was that some of my cider smelled like rotten eggs. So I guess apples have alot of sulfur compounds in them, or the yeast coverts something in them into hydrogen Sulfide gas (rotten egg smell). I found this out after I smelled one of the ciders that was bottled already and I hadn’t left it to ferment long enough. The smell also is happening in one of the ciders that is in the carboy right now. It’s supposed to go away after primary fermentation which is good. You are supposed to leave the cider to ferment for about 4 months not 6 weeks like I had originally tried. I was just impatient and wanted to use the carboys to start something else.
Fermenting things in the Winter is sort of tricky because the temperature drops lower obviously and then the fermentation doesn’t stay steady. This can be fixed with an electric blanket or just putting the carboys somewhere warmer in your house. The reason that the apple cider needs to be fermenting now is because the apples didn’t ripen till September or early October here. This year I will start some in September though. There are also yeasts that do better at cooler temperatures which I also did not take into consideration.
I am also making a honey mead with vanilla, a pumpkin mead and then some kombucha tea.