Apple Cider is a wonderful seasonal drink that is incredibly easy to make and perfect to enjoy in the cooler weather. Choose your favorite apples to use and don’t forget the seasonal spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg.
One of the best fall traditions for many families is going apple picking. It doesn’t get much better than driving up to a farm or an orchard and picking out your own fruit and berries right off the trees. Fresh fruit, right off the tree always tastes so much better.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets to go apple picking around the country. Fortunately, even if you can’t pick your own, you can usually find them fresh in the grocery store or farmer’s market.
If you can get your hand on some beautiful apples, Apple Cider is a wonderful warm drink to make. Fall spices bring out the best taste of apples and compliment it so well. It’s a mouth full of holiday joy!
Uses For Apple Cider
There are so many uses for this simple drink!
Obviously, straight up, it’s delicious as a hot or cold drink. Although, you can add different spices to change the flavor. Just a pinch of fresh anise, clove, or nutmeg gives it even more seasonal flair.
You can also use it to make adult cocktails! I think it would make a fantastic appletini or try my favorite apple cider martini. Fall flavored sangria would also be great with addition of this cider.
You can even use it in place of other liquids in your favorite recipes. For example, the next time you make buttermilk waffles or pancakes, add apple cider instead of water. Or, use it as a braising liquid for cabbage or braised chicken.
No matter which way you use it, I think you’ll love it!
APPLE CIDER VS APPLE JUICE
Although these two drinks look similar and are both made with apples, their flavors are quite different.
Apple cider has a stronger apple flavor that is true to the natural taste of apples. This is because the cider is made by mashing cooked apples into a pulp. Then, the pulp is pressed inside of cheesecloth to remove the fresh juice.
With apple juice, the apples are filtered and then the fresh juice is pasteurized to extend its shelf life. There are a lot of additives that change or take away from the natural apple flavor.
- Apples- The main ingredient in this recipe is, of course, fresh apples! Even with addition of spices and orange, it is the most prominent taste.
You can use any color or variety that you like. Keep in mind that the cider will take on the flavor of the variety you use.
I like to use a combination of sweet varieties, usually both yellow and red apples. If you enjoy tart apples, you can absolutely use them as well! Just know that you may need to add some brown sugar to sweeten the flavor.
- Orange – this will add a nice layer of citrus flavors and bring a little more natural sweetness to the cider.
- Spices– You’ll want to use whole spices rather than ground. Not only do they provide better flavor, but also, you will be able to remove that without affecting the texture.
For this apple cider recipe, you’ll need whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, 1 whole nutmeg, and whole allspice berries.
How To Make Apple Cider
1. Clean and quarter the fruit. To make things easy, leave the apple cores intact and you don’t peel them either (most of the vitamins and nutrients are in the apple skin)! In addition to the apples, I also slice a navel orange into quarters. It adds a bit of sweetness and a nice flavor to the drink.
Place cut fruit into a large pot along with whole cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Then, pour water into the pot and bring everything to a boil.
2. Cook the fruit. After it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You want the apples to cook down completely, so it’s perfectly okay if they fall apart in the pot.
3. Make the apple mash. Next, use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to mash the fruit into a pulp. Then, allow it to cool until it’s easy to handle.
Make sure to cool apple cider before running it through a cheese cloth or mesh bag so it’s not too hot to handle.
4. Extract the juice from the pulp. For the next step, you can use a double layer of cheesecloth or a mesh vegetable bag.
Place the cheesecloth over a large strainer (or fit the mesh bag over it). Slowly pour half of the apple pulp mixture into the cloth.
Now, bring the edges of the cloth together and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Don’t be afraid to squeeze firmly; you want to extract as much juice as possible.
Discard what is left in the cloth, then repeat with the remaining apple pulp.
Note: depending on the size of the cheese cloth or mesh bag, you can do these steps in several batches.
5. Taste for sweetness and serve! After extracting the juice, you should taste it for sweetness. If you think it needs sweetening, the simplest thing to do is heat the cider up in a pan on the stove and dissolve some brown sugar into it.
Keep in mind that there are no preservatives in this apple cider recipe. So, you will need to keep it in the refrigerator, at no higher than 40°,and use it within 5 days. After that, the apples will begin to sour.
You can store it in the original cooking pot with a lid or in a glass jar with a lid. Stir apple cider well before pouring it into the glass because it will settle.
Store apple cider in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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Homemade Apple Cider
- Cheese cloth or mesh vegetable bag
- Dutch oven or large pot
- 3 lbs variety of apples 8-10 apples
- 1 orange
- 14-16 cups water
- 4 2-3 inch cinnamon sticks
- 8-10 whole cloves
- 2 tsp whole allspice
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1/4-1/3 cups brown sugar optional
- Quarter apples and orange and place them in a large pot. Don't peel or core the apples.
- Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg.
- Pour it water.
- Bring mixture to boil and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Mash apples with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Cool everything until easy to handle.
- You can use a cheese cloth folded twice or a mesh vegetable bag.
- Place cheese cloth over a large strainer (of fit the mesh bag over it). Pour half the mixture in slowly. Bring edges of the cheese cloth together and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.
- Discard the what is left in the cheese cloth and repeat with remaining cider.
- Serve apple cider hot or cold.
- Store in the refrigerator, in a pitcher with a lid or glass jars with lids.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on September 29, 2014. Updated November 2, 2020.