I went apple picking the for the first time this fall. I didn't even realize that this is something people did or that it was something you could do until I was invited to tag along to the orchard. Back home, people grow apple trees in their yards, but orchards don't really exist. Instead of cherishing the fresh apples, the apple tree inheritors tend to pawn off the apples on as many people as possible.
You said you wanted a couple apples? Here, take a bushel.
I went late in the season so most of the apples were on the ground instead of dangling in the trees. This just means there were more apples to sample. And sample, I did. I must have eaten at least 6 apples and eat part of half a dozen more. Some sweet, some tart, and some sitting exactly in between. Oh, it was apple heaven.
My apple picking methods were as follows: scope out the reddest apple trees, find an apple sitting at the base, pick it up off the ground, dust it off on my shirt, and take a big bite. Sometimes more than one bite. Sometimes I would eat the entire apple while picking as many as I could before another tree would catch my eye. Apple trees are terribly distracting. Especially the ones with the ladders to climb.
All said and done with, I bought 20 pounds of apples. For myself. At this rate, I should be able to keep the doctor away for at least a month. Maybe two.
This is the first time I have attempted to make apple juice (or any juice for that matter). Without a juicer, I wanted to prove that making apple cider would still be simple, easy, and that anyone could do it (yes, that means you). From start to finish, this apple cider takes roughly an hour to make. So, if you happen to have a dozen or two apples lying around and hour to spare, you have no excuses for not making this. Absolutely none.
This homemade apple cider will make your home smell absolutely fantastic, 100% guaranteed. This is the real deal, my friends. It doesn't get fresher or more pure than this. And knowing you took the time to make the juice yourself will make you appreciate the final product all the more. The cider has hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit of orange to round out the flavors. I like to call it Autumn In A Cup because that is exactly what this tastes of.
Homemade Apple Cider
If you want to go the easy route, you can substitute the apples for 2 quarts apple juice, eliminate the water, and spice the juice as directed.
Yields about 2 quarts
17-18 medium-large apples
5 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 orange, not peeled, cut into slices
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups water
Core and slice the apples into a large dice. Do not peel. By not peeling the apples, we can retain some of the nutrition value (and fiber!) that is in the apple peel for the cider. This will result in a darker shade for the apple cider, but it will taste the same and have more nutrional value. I can't say no to that.
In a blender or food processor, add the diced apples and blend until the mixture is pulverized, resembling a thick paste. You will have to repeat this process several times.
Cover a large jar or bowl with a cheesecloth. You may need to secure the cheesecloth with a rubber band. Place the apple paste over the cheesecloth and allow the juice to drip out naturally. When the dripping has slowed, remove the rubber band, gather up the cheesecloth, and squeeze out the excess juice by hand. If you squeeze too hard, the apple paste will leak through the cheesecloth. Now is not the time to bring out the hulk hands.
Throw away (or, better yet, compost) the dried apple paste. Repeat this process until all the apples have been juiced.
In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, orange slices, ginger, and water. Place on medium-high heat until the juice boils. Cover and turn the temperature down to low, simmering for 15 minutes.
Strain the juice and toss the spices. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick or orange slice to garnish!
Store the cider in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The cider can also be frozen for up to 3 months.