Monday, October 3, 2016

Apple Cider {Bottled}

Apple season is in full swing and thanks to wonderful farmers and a generous neighbor, I had a plethora of them last week.  I was stocked with dehydrated apples, applesauce and canned apple pie filling already, so I branched out to try something new: apple cider.  The results were fantastic.

You really can use whatever apples you have on hand; I had a mix of granny smith and red delicious; with a few fuji's and golden delicious in the mix.  The type of apples used will contribute to the sweetness factor, so you may need to adjust the honey or sugar to your liking.
If you are making a large batch you can definitely can this for future use (instructions follow), but if canning intimidates you then by all means just leave that part out.  This should store just fine in the fridge for up to 1 week.  If you are doing multiple batches, I would reuse the cinnamon/clove spice bag - you could definitely get more than one use out of it.
Also, DON'T THROW OUT THE APPLE PIECES AND PULP AT THE END!  This can be sent through a Victorio Strainer and made into delicious applesauce, which you can either eat plain or bottle (instructions here).  Or you could use it to make apple butter.  I sifted through mine for core-less pieces and pureed them in my blender to make apple cider fruit leather, so you've got a lot of options!

Apple Cider
Recipe modified from BLDG 25
25 apples of choice
water to cover apples (should be at least 4 quarts)
1 c. honey (or sweetener of choice)
10 cinnamon sticks
15 whole cloves

Chop apples into 4-6 pieces (do not skin or remove cores - just throw it all in)
Add apples to a large pot and cover with water.
Add sweetener of choice to the pot.
Take cinnamon sticks and cloves and wrap in a spice bag or cheesecloth; toss into the pot.

Bring to a boil, and boil uncovered on high for 1 hour.
Turn the heat to low, and simmer for 2-4 hours longer.
Once cooking is over, remove cheesecloth or spice bag.
Use a potato masher to mash the apples into a pulp (as much as possible).

Using a fine mesh strainer, remove as much of the pulp as possible.
Pour the remaining cider and pulp through a mesh strainer to catch all of the big pieces (you can also pour it into a large cheesecloth bag and squeee out all of the liquid).
Season to taste, and adjust sweetener if needed.

Makes 4 quarts.

If canning: put strained cider into a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer.
Pour hot cider into hot, sterilized jars.
Wipe rims clean, and top with a hot, sterilized lid.
Screw band on as tightly as possible.
Let stand on a towel or hot pad until you hear the "pop", and the cider has cooled completely.
Store in a cool, dark place.

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