Easy Apple Cider From Scratch
Autumn is in the air and nothing says it quite like warm apple cider. Too often, I find recipes that call for store-bought bottled cider and it makes me want to weep. It feels counter intuitive really, to take the thick golden nectar of cider and zap it in the microwave or simply plunk another store-bought counterpart of pre-packaged mulling spices into a crock pot and call it a day. There’s magic in the fresh apples that exude their natural sugary juices and permeate your home with the beautiful scent of autumn all around you while it stews all day long. The glorious apple perfume alone is worth your time. And let’s be honest, it’s fairly low maintenance. Just tumble all your ingredients into a pot or slow cooker and stir every once in awhile. After many hours of simmering, the soft fruit nearly begs to be pressed into a finer mash to produce that pure golden cider, swirled with wholesome apples and rich cloudy juice.
What exactly is apple cider you ask? How does it differ from apple juice?
Apple cider is simply pressed and is thicker without any of the pulp/sediment removed, often utilizing the whole apple while apple juice is much more clear, filtered and usually pasteurized and sometimes concentrated then reconstituted with water.
My simple technique doesn’t require a fancy apple press or any special equipment. You have the option of using a pot or slow cooker, tailoring the spices with your favorites or adding oranges or pears. Don’t have a strainer? You can simply use unbleached cheesecloth. Desire a more tart cider? Toss in a few granny smith apples. Looking for a spiked cider? Add in your favorite liquor. Needless to say, the options are endless.
In terms of how to enjoy your homemade apple cider, there are even more possibilities. Lately, I’ve been loving a simple frozen apple cider on those autumn days that see more sunshine than edges of chill in the air. A few years ago, I created these delicious apple cider donuts that I intend on making again for some friends in a few weeks but I’m wondering if there will be any cider left.
- 5 pounds of apples of your choice
- ½ c brown sugar
- 2 ts whole cloves
- 5 whole cinnamon sticks
- ½ whole nutmeg
- ½ ts ground all spice
- 16 cups/1 gallon fresh filtered water
- Combine everything in a heavy bottomed pot.
- Bring to a fierce boil, uncovered then drop it to low and simmer, covered.
- Stir regularly, mashing the softened fruit as you go and cook for 4-6 hours.
- Cool slightly then mash through a fine mesh strainer.
- Decant into a clean jar/bottle and chill. Lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge.