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Craft Range Build you Own Cider Starter Kit

This innovative starter kit allows you to built it to your own specifications by providing core equipment, and then alowing you to select several optional add ons.

Core equipment contains the following:
- 30 litre quality graduated fermentation bucket with lid and grommet,
- airlock,
- stirring paddle,
- large liquid crystal thermometer (easy to read),
- quality Stevenson Reeves hydrometer, and
- syphon.

Optional extras (heavily discounted), and the reasons you may need them are as follows:
- VWP Cleaner / Sterilizer 100g Tub. You will need to thoroughly clean and then sterilize your equipment before you use it. VWP is a very effective cleaner / sterilizer. After use, make sure you rinse your equipment to remove the VWP.
- Heating Belt (brew belt) or a Heat Pad. These tend to raise the temperature by about 6 oC. So if your room temperature is 15 oC, these will raise the fermenter temperature to about 21 oC. If your room temperature is always higher than 18 oC, then you probably don't need one of these. If the temperature of your fermenter gets above 25 oC, the quality of your cider will seriously suffer. Bear in mind that fermentation is an "exothermic" process, which is a long winded way of saying that it creates heat. This can be enough to raise the temperature of the fermenter by up to 2 oC. Fermentation is usually slow for 12 hours, then gets very vigorous for about 2 days (creating heat), and then dies down again. Ideally, the temperature should be about 20 oC, and constant so that it doesn't fluctuate.
- Pipette or a Jug: You can use these to take samples of the cider (make sure you sterilize them first). This is useful when sweetening the cider since you may wish to keep adding sweetener and sampling until it tastes the way you want.
- Trial Jar: You can elect to leave the hydrometer in the fermenter or you can take a sample of the cider by sterilizing the trial jar, filling it, and then placing the hydrometer in the trial jar to take a reading. The trial jar is Stevenson Reeves, is designed for use with the hydrometer, and is clear glass so that its easy to read.
- Bottles: The 500ml Ox-Bar PET bottles have an oxygen barrier membrane and are every bit as good as glass bottles. They come with reusable screw caps. An advantage is that you can "feel" them to determine if your cider is ready to drink (i.e. that its gassed up sufficiently). You will need 48 to bottle your cider. Alternatively you can select a pack of 100 caps and a bottle capper; you will then need to collect glass bottles. We don't advise this since most modern bottles are not designed for reuse, and the necks can develop fractures resulting in glass shards or dust falling into your cider. If you want to use glass bottles, see the equipment section where you can find quality reusable glass bottles, and also "swing top" bottles.
- Carbonation Drops: Sufficient for 2 batches of cider, these are "drops" that are placed in the bottles before you fill them. Its much easier than having to add 3 grams of sugar to the bottles. Alternatively, you can use a bottling bucket (see below). Please note that you can't just add sugar to the fermenter and stir it since that would disturb the yeast sediment and make your cider cloudy (if you then wait a day of two for it to clear, the yeast will have fermented the added sugar and you will be back to square one).
- Bottling Bucket: This is an extra bucket with a tap and a special bottle filling stick (sometimes called a bottling wand). You simply syphon your clear cider into this bucket, leaving the sediment behind. You then add sugar (6 grams per litre of cider) and gently stir until dissolved. Open the tap, and push the bottle up until the filling stick hits the bottopm of the bottle, opening the valve. The bottle fills up until its ready to overflow, them you pull the bottle away and the valve closes. The space left when you withdraw the filling stick leaves the correct amount of "head space". This makes bottling very easy and is strongly recommended. An advantage is that you can chose the level of carbonation (the amount of CO2 in your cider) by adding more than 6 grams per litre for a fizzy cider, or less for less fizz.
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