Homemade Apple Cider
There is something so wonderfully nostalgic about cider mulling on the stove, infused with beautiful orange slices, cinnamon sticks and cloves, filling up the house with that most heavenly of heavenly spicy aromas. Mmmmm….
But for years, the “homemade” cider I’ve made has always come from the big glass jar I’ve purchased in my annual fall cider pilgrimage to the store. It was only until recently that I ever really thought about investigating how to make a batch completely from scratch. So during a beautiful fall day today, with the windows open and a cool breeze blowing through the house, I decided to give it a try.
Now, I have no idea why I waited so long. :)
The entire process was such a delight. It turns out that the initial prep work for the cider could not be easier. (I think it took me all of five minutes.) Basically, you let the apples and spices do their work for a few hours, while your home fills with the most wonderful, spicy aroma. And then after a little straining, you have a pot full of warm, delicious cider ready to be ladeled into your favorite mug and savored. Amazingly simple.
My favorite thing about the process, though, was just watching it all come together from scratch. I know that probably sounds obvious, but this was my first time making a homemade apple juice. Sure, I’ve juiced oranges and lemons and limes plenty of times before. But the anticipation of waiting for the crisp apples, cinnamon sticks and whole spices to mull together and create this completely new cider just felt different. Felt like I was connecting with a bit of tradition. A bit of history. I love it. :)
Will definitely be making this my new fall tradition!
Homemade Apple Cider
- 12 or so small-to-medium-sized apples, assorted types (I used mostly Gala, Granny Smith & Red Delicious)
- 1 orange
- 1/2-1 cup brown sugar
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
- 1 tsp. whole allspice (optional)
- water to cover
Wash apples and the orange, and then roughly cut into quarters. (Don't worry about removing peels, seeds, or stems.) Place in a large stock pot.
Add sugar (I start with 1/2 cup, you can always add more later), cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Then cover with water, filling the pot until it is nearly full. (I left about 2 inches of space at the top of my pot.) Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Then cover and reduce to a simmer, and allow juice to simmer for at least another two hours.
Periodically during the three hours, use a potato masher (or I used tongs, or you could just use the side of a spoon) to begin mash the apple and orange slices once they are soft. Feel free to also add more sugar or spices to taste.
When cider is ready allow to cool then strain apple pieces and whole spices into a clean pitcher or pot. If you feel like it you can strain everything through a cheesecloth and twist and squeeze to get every last drop.
Serve hot, and garnish with a cinnamon stick, fresh orange slice, or dried apples if you'd like. Store in the fridge and reheat as desired.
I have yet to try this in a slow cooker, but imagine it would make a fabulous batch of cider as well!