I have officially transitioned to fall, almost. I am no longer in denial of colder weather coming and am pretty close to being able to light a pumpkin spice candle. Of course, making homemade apple cider has helped this transition!
So, what is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Apple cider is unfiltered apple juice that still has the pulp and sediment in it. Apple juice is filtered and pasteurized. Apple cider is a good source of iron and potassium.
Making apple cider is quite easy, especially if you have a juicer. It's always best to use at least two different varieties of apples and the sweeter the better. Some of us don't have sweet apples or we might just have one variety. Don't worry. You can add a little bit of spices and honey to please the taste buds.
A ball park figure of how much you can make with a bushel of apples is approximately 15-16 quarts of apple cider.
Here is my little secret: I do not know what kinds of apple trees I have. We have four different varieties that were full grown when we moved here and I can't figure out what they are. I did plant more that aren't quite ready yet, so I do know what they are, two of which are antique trees called Cinnamon Spice. You can imagine what they are going to taste like. Yum!
I make my cider with a juicer. If you do not have a juicer, you will need to cook your apples in water. Go to Pick Your Own to find out how to make apple cider without a juicer.
1. Once you pick your apples and wash them well, you will need to core and slice them. The apples do not need to be perfect, but any holes or soft spots will need to be cut out before you put them in the juicer. Remember, you do not need to peel them! Yes!
2. Start juicing your apples until you have enough juice, or you run out of apples, or you just get tired of coring them.
3. Put the cider in a stainless steel pan and simmer on low. I add a couple of cinnamon sticks, a couple of dashes of nutmeg and allspice and honey to taste. My apples that are ready now are not a very sweet variety, so adding honey really makes it taste extra yummy.
4. If you think the cider is too thick for your liking, add a little bit of water. There will be foam on top but this can be skimmed off.
5. Once the cider starts to steam, pour into mason jars. You can refrigerate the cider for about a week, or you can drink it all up from the pan!
6. If you would like for it to last a lot longer, put your jars in a water bath canner for 5 minutes, following the correct steps for water bath canning.
You will notice a separation of the sediment and pulp from the apple juice. This is normal, but give it a good shake before you pour yourself a drink.
The smell of apple cider simmering on the stove is quite enticing. The taste is even better!
Now you can sip on apple cider all winter long.
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