Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade Apple Cider

Hot apple cider is perfect on chilly fall and winter nights.  I had never tried making my own apple cider before, but saw a recipe (from my Pinterest obsession) on gimme some oven for apple cider served in apples and decided I had to try not only to make my own cider, but also to serve Hot Apple Cider in Apple Cups.
Plus, our home was just begging to be filled with the amazing smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, apples, and oranges.
So, I decided to modify the recipe I saw and go to the store to get my first cheesecloth (yep, first timer).  My main modification to the recipes I found is in terms of sugar.
[Aside: I figure that fruit is sweet enough and I don't like sugary juices, so why make a juice with sugar?  I included the optional sweetener and amounts in the ingredients, just in case you do want to make it with extra sugar.  However, I usually buy no-sugar-added juices, made with fruit only.  So, naturally, that is what I am making at home.]
The results were awesome and we enjoyed our homemade cider snuggled up on the couch.

12 Medium Apples
1 Orange
4 Cinnamon Sticks
1 ts. Ground Cloves
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Allspice
Cheesecloth, or other fine strainer
1/4 Cup Agave Nectar, Stevia, or other all-natural sweetener (or brown sugar if you want to use sugar).  Most recipes call for 1/2 cup to 1 cup sugar, so if you want it sweeter, go right on ahead.

1.  Wash and cut apples and oranges into quarters (leave in stems/seeds/skin/etc).  Place in large stockpot.
2.  Add in cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice (and sugar/sweetener if you prefer).  Cover with water, filling the pot nearly to the top (minus 2-3 inches).
3.  Bring to a boil and boil, uncovered, for 1 hour.  Feel free to stir or mash (with a masher) or squeeze (with tongs), the fruit occasionally.
4.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 more hours. Feel free to stir or mash (with a masher) or squeeze (with tongs), the fruit occasionally.
5.  Discard fruit from pot.  Filter the juice through a fine strainer (recommend a cheesecloth) and store in pitcher.

Serve hot with a cinnamon stick (cuddly blanket optional).


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