How to Make Apple Cider
Have you ever wondered how to make apple cider from scratch? Homemade apple cider is so easy to make with just a few natural, everyday ingredients. Skip the added sugar by making apple cider at home.
Warm or cold, apple cider is the epitome of autumn comfort. Often after putting our girls to bed I come out and have a warm mug of apple cider in front of the fire. It doesn’t get much cozier than that. I have been buying spiced apple cider for years, and it finally dawned on me, that I really could just make it myself. Since apples are naturally sweet, it surprised me that store bought apple cider can contain added sugar. There’s just no need for it. It seems like every autumn we have friends bringing us more homegrown apples than we can eat. If I’m not making Slow Cooker Applesauce with them, I love to make homemade spiced apple cider.
What Exactly Is Apple Cider?
If you’re lucky enough to have an apple tree, or even just pick up more apples than you can eat at the farmers market, this recipe is the perfect solution. What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice? I had this question myself, and found out that apple cider is unfiltered, giving it that cloudy appearance, whereas apple juice is clear. What type of apples should you use for apple juice or apple cider? You really can’t go wrong! I love to use a blend of apples, or whatever local apples I can get my hands on. Gala, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious will create a sweeter cider, while Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Braeburn will add tartness.
How to Make Apple Cider from Scratch with Fresh Apples
There are several ways to get your apple cider started. The easiest way, of course, is to buy apple juice. Most apple cider recipes around the Internet call for store bought apple juice, but I wanted to make the whole recipe from scratch, using fresh, whole apples. The first time I made homemade apple cider I used my Vitamix, as I didn’t own a juicer.
Big apple chunks get blended with a little water until a juice is formed. If you don’t mind a thicker juice this is a great way to go as you’ll get some of the fiber in with the juice. Next I pour the juice through a fine mesh strainer. And voilà, fresh apple juice in just a few minutes.
If you do have a juicer, and this something I recently added to my kitchen toys, that’s an even easier route.
Making Apple Cider in the Slow Cooker Crock Pot
How do we turn fresh apple juice into spiced apple cider? All we need to do is spice it up. I love adding the juice and spices to a slow cooker because it smells so wonderful and can be kept the perfect temperature for hours. Heat will slowly infuse the apple juice with the spices. I like to pop some orange and apple slices in the slow cooker for even more flavor and to make it a little prettier for guests.
Homemade Apple Cider
- 32 oz. apple juice (about 8 apples)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 orange, sliced
- fresh cranberries for garnish, optional
- If using a blender to “juice” your apples, quarter and core your apples. Fill the blender with the apples and 1 cup of water. You will have to work in batches. Blend for about two minutes until the apples are completely pureed. Pour the apple juice through a fine mesh sieve into a slow cooker.
- Add the apple juice to a slow cooker or sauce pan over low heat. Add the spices and orange slices. Heat until warm and fragrant and ready to enjoy.
- Apple cider can be enjoyed warm or cold. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a pitcher and storing in the refrigerator.
I like to keep this apple cider warm in a slow cooker. It makes the house smell like the holidays! Garnish with fresh cranberries for an extra festive treat.