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homemade apple cider

MAKING HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER

Why not celebrate Fall’s arrival with your own batch of my delicious Homemade Apple Cider? 

When the weather begins to cool and the air becomes crisp, it’s AppleFest time here in Western North Carolina. Both North Carolina and Tennessee grow lots of apples, so we always have a wide variety to choose from every Fall.

We always visit the Apple Fritter stand, but a huge glass of icy apple cider on a sunny Fall day is the real treat.  And on a chilly October morning, there’s nothing better than a steaming mug of homemade apple cider to warm your cockles.

You can always grab a jug of commercially produced apple cider, and it will be very good. But, after making my own homemade apple cider, I now know how much better it is than bulk-made ciders.

 

homemade apple cider

WHAT APPLES SHOULD YOU USE FOR HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER?

The great thing is that you can control the sweetness to some extent with your choice of apples and use of sugar.  But I will tell you right now, no two batches of homemade apple cider will be identical. 

How sweet or tart homemade apple cider is will largely be determined by your choice of apples. With that in mind, let’s talk apples.

For the best homemade apple cider, you’ll want to choose a variety of apples, some sweet and some tart.  The ratio of sweet-to-tart is completely up to you.

SWEET APPLE VARIETIES –homemade apple cider

  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Honeycrisp
  • Red Delicious
  • Ambrosia
  • Golden Delicious

 

TART APPLE VARIETIES –

  • Pink Lady
  • Braeburn
  • McIntosh
  • Jonathan
  • Empire
  • Cortland

 

 

HOW APPLE CIDER IS MADE FROM SCRATCH

Homemade Apple Cider, or Sweet Cider are the common names for unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic apple juice extracted from whole apples – core, peel and all.

Not to be confused with Hard Apple Cider, which is the fermented and aged alcoholic version of apple cider. Since I was lucky enough to score a fabulous selection of apple varieties at our AppleFest, I decided to make a batch of each.

You can read about my experience making Hard Apple Cider here.

Outside of the United States, Homemade Apple Cider can be labeled as “cloudy apple juice” to distinguish it from filtered apple juice.

 

making homemade apple cider

APPLES, APPLES AND MORE APPLES…

Fresh juice is extracted from whole apples, including the apple core, along with oddly sized or “imperfect” apples, which are called apple culls. A batch of homemade apple cider is cloudy because of the fine apple particles suspended in the liquid. 

A homemade apple cider like my recipe can still vary in taste from batch to batch, depending on the amounts and different types of apples you use.

I used a combination of Pink Lady, Yellow Delicious, Honeycrisp and Gala apples for both the sweet and hard ciders. You’ll want to pick a variety that combines both sweet and tart apples to give your ciders a nice balance.

Commercially-made apple cider is sometimes pasteurized or exposed to UV light to kill bacteria and extend its shelf-life. But you can always find the traditional, raw and untreated cider during the Fall each year.

 

LET’S WATCH HOW SALLY’S CIDER PRESS DOES THEIR THING!

Today Sally’s Cider in Harmony, Pennsylvania will show us how they press their apples with a large, old hydraulic stacked-plate-style press which they updated with stainless-steel components.  They use a conveyor to feed the apples into a hammer mill which chops the apples before they’re wrapped in burlap for pressing.

 

 

 

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER AT HOME

After selecting your apples, the process is actually very simple when made in a crock-pot.  And if your apples are chopped into medium pieces, the whole process of cooking down your cider mixture will be pretty hands-off.

ingredients for homemade apple cider

 

You shouldn’t depend on your apples to be sweet enough to produce a drinkable cider, and adding a bit of sugar will truly enhance your final product.

I like to use a demora sugar (I buy it in cubes) which lends a deeper flavor to my cider than white sugar can do. You’ll see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post calls for “sugar”, the choice is up to your personal taste.

I love to add a whole orange (minus the seeds!), cinnamon sticks and cloves to my homemade apple cider.  The orange and it’s peel give a nice citrusy undertone to the cider, while the cinnamon and cloves lend a subtle spice that is absolutely delightful.

 

homemade apple cider in crockpot

I USE MY TRUSTY CROCK POT FOR EASY CIDER-MAKING

Pressing the apples in the traditional way isn’t really practical at home. You’ll find that recipes usually have you either use a crock-pot or a cooktop method.  I love the convenience of using my crock-pot and find it to give me the best, and amazing results. 

It’s an easy overnight of cooking away on low in the crock-pot before you’ll need to mash the mixture to help the apples continue to break down.  Another few hours on high will finish it off so it’s ready to strain after it cools.

I really enjoy my homemade apple cider hot or cold, so I like to refrigerate my cider as soon as it’s strained.

And since I’m known as The Lifestyle Diva, you can be sure it’s bottled and labeled before it heads to the refrigerator!

 

homemade apple cider printable labels

GIVE YOUR HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER REAL STYLE

Since I plan to serve my Homemade Apple Cider to guests, I thought it would be lovely to bottle and label it.  That also makes it perfect for gift-giving too, especially if you are making a batch of my Hard Apple Cider too.

So I set about creating a set of both bottle labels and hang tags to give this batch of Homemade Apple Cider extra-special.  And you can have your own set too!

They’re available for downloading and printing from the IFAFL Subscriber’s Resource Library.  Not a subscriber? Just fill out the form at the end of this post and you’ll be given intant access to all our Fabulous Freebies.

I print my labels on Avery Shipping Labels (full page) and cut them out. They’re a snap to adhere to your bottles when they are at room temperature.  I warn you, it won’t work on a chilled bottle that’s busy perspiring!

NAN’S TIP: Make sure to gently shake the bottle before serving, as the apple-solids will sink to the bottom.

 

homemade apple cider in bottles

 

I hope you’ll head to the farmer’s market and bring home a nice variety of apples to make lots of your own homemade apple cider.  It’s really simple, and sooo worth it!

Don’t forget to check out my post on how to make Hard Apple Cider too!

You’ll find the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

 

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homemade apple cider

Homemade Apple Cider

Yield: 2 - 2 1/2 Quarts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes

This Homemade Apple Cider is spiked with sweet oranges, cinnamon sticks and cloves for a delightful Fall treat that's super easy to make in your crock pot.

Ingredients

  • 20 large apples (see article for best varieties)
  • 2 large oranges, peeled, cut into large chunks, seeds removed
  • 6 long strips of orange peel, all white pith removed
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp. whole cloves
  • Sugar, depending on your desired sweetness (white or demoma)
  • Hot water

Instructions

  1. Wash apples, cut into quarters and place inside crock pot.
  2. Add orange, orange peels, cinnamon, cloves and sugar, stirring to combine.
  3. Pour in very hot tap water to completely cover fruit mixture.
  4. Cook on low heat for 6 hours, or until apples are very soft. Using a hand potato masher or large spoon, crush the fruit to help release more juice as they cook.
  5. Turn slow cooker to high and cook for 2 more hours.
  6. Turn off crock pot, remove lid and let cool for 30 minutes.
  7. Mash the apple mixture again to release any remaining juices and slowly and carefully strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large pot.
  8. Using a spoon, gently push down on fruit to render the remaining juices.
  9. Strain the cider again to remove any large solids from the cider.
  10. Refrigerate cider for up to 7 days. Serve warm or cold over ice.

Notes

*I used about 1/3 cup demora sugar in my homemade apple cider.

Homemade apple cider can be frozen for up to 90 days. Thaw slowly in refrigerator before using.

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