The Science of Cider

If you ever wanted a better understanding of how cider is made, this short video helps explain the ins and outs of making this classic fall drink.

In the US, we like to call alcoholic cider, “hard cider.” The rest of the world, just keeps it simple by referring to it as cider. The non-alcoholic stuff is called “sweet cider.” Understanding the science of cider has everything to do with understanding the conversion of sugars into ethanol by our favorite fungi – yeast.

science of cider

Glycolysis and Alcoholic Fermentation

The process of converting the sugars to ethanol is really the story of glucose converting via glycolysis into two pyruvate molecules. Then, via alcoholic fermentation, those pyruvate molecules convert to carbon dioxide and acetaldehyde. Those acetaldehydes then convert to ethanol. This process is performed in the absence of oxygen. The end products from the glucose then are your alcohol and your carbonation! It really is as simple as that.

glycolysis to alcoholic fermentation diagram

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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