If you’ve always wanted to learn how to make apple cider, the process can range from extremely easy to much more labor intensive.
Historically speaking, people once used the cider press, a non-mechanical device, to squeeze out the juice from apples – and they would just call that apple cider. From there, employers could pay their employees with it, and pay rent or other obligations.
We’ve come a long way since the days apple cider was used as a form of commerce. Apple cider also has a different meaning today: it’s a spiced apple drink – not just apple juice.
You can find apple cider ready-made at the store, or you can create your own – either using purchased apple juice or, for a more natural drink, fresh apples.
However you make it, apple cider is the perfect drink for autumn and for using all those ripened apples!
Apple Cider: The Super Easy Way
If you want to make your cider a little more special and don’t want to just get the store-bought version, follow this recipe.
What You’ll Need:
- apple juice – 1 gallon
- some cheesecloth (enough to make a little “bag of spices”)
- spices – cinnamon, cloves (whole or ground), ginger, nutmeg
- orange peel from one orange
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (optional)
- cinnamon stick (optional)
What To Do:
1. Pour the apple juice into a large pan. Turn your stove on to medium-low heat.
As the apple juice is heating, prepare the cheesecloth by laying it out and then putting 1-2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg on the cloth. Add the orange peel, and 3-4 whole cloves or 1 teaspoon ground cloves. Using the corners of the cloth, tie it into a small bag.
Place the cheesecloth bag into the cider. Add the brown sugar at this time, if desired. Stir occasionally. You’ll see the spices and sugar dissolving into the apple juice.
Once the mixture is hot (20-30 minutes), use a slotted spoon to take out the cheesecloth bag. Set aside and let cool. Compost the orange peel and spices.
Ladle the cider into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick. You’ll want to be sure to consume all of the cider within one week of making it.
Make Apple Cider Using Fresh Apples
If you want to skip the grocery store altogether and make cider from scratch, you’ll need a few on-hand kitchen items, and a little time.
What You’ll Need:
- 36 apples, preferably a mix of red and green varieties, washed thoroughly (Red Delicious and Granny Smith are good bets)
- apple corer (nice to have, but not necessary if you don’t already have one)
- spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
- orange or lemon peel
- cinnamon sticks (optional)
- whipped cream (optional)
What To Do:
- Core the apples. You can either do this by using an apple corer or cutting each apple in half and scooping out the center (seeds and all) with a knife.
- Quarter the apples so they will fit more easily in the blender.
- Place the apples in a blender and puree them (both peel and pulp). You’ll probably have to do this in batches to accommodate all the apples.
- Place the cheesecloth over a bowl, and pour the apple puree with its juice over the cloth. Squeeze the pulp to extract more juice.
- Lift out the cheesecloth with the pulp and you’re left with the juice.
- You can now drink as-is or heat the juice over medium-low heat. Then add the spices of your choice, by the teaspoonful, until you’re satisfied with the taste. Add either the orange or lemon peel, depending on your preferences.
- Strain out the spices once the cider is hot, but not boiling. You can use cheesecloth and strain the cider into a bowl once again, or skim off the spices and orange or lemon peel with a large spoon.
- Serve in mugs with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick.
Yield: approximately one gallon of cider
- If you do happen to have access to a cider press, it’s always fun to extract juice from apples the “old-fashioned” way.
- You can add a little rum and brown sugar to instantly make hard cider.
- If you heat the cider to 160° F, you effectively pasteurize it, allowing it to keep a little longer – up to 21 days. If not, you’ll want to consume it within 7 days.