Homemade Apple Cider
It's that time of year again!! Apples, pumpkins, spices, donuts, the list goes on. I just love fall!
When apples are in season, I look for any and every way to use them. Apple cider always makes me think of the apple farms in Michigan I used to go to growing up. We would get fresh, hot cider, along with apple cider donuts. It is the most perfect thing on a cool fall day. Even though it has been so hot here in Southern California, I couldn't help myself, I had to make up a batch of apple cider. Making homemade apple cider is actually very simple.
Tips for great apple cider:
*Use sweet and tart apples; this creates more of an interesting balance of flavor, instead of being overly sweet.
*Use homemade pumpkin pie spice; the flavor of the spices will be much nicer, and bit more strong.
*Sweeten as you go; You don't want the cider to be overly sweet! I like to use brown sugar for its earthy molasses flavor, and/or honey, because it has a nice floral taste to it. If you taste the cider as it cooks, then it will prevent an overly sugary tasting finished product.
*Serve warm; I like apple cider cold as well, but there is something really special about warm cider. The spices come out more, and the warmth of the cider is so comforting, especially if you are eating it with a donut.
Homemade Apple Cider
10-12 apples; half sweet, half tart
1 orange; optional
1 tablespoon homemade pumpkin pie spice
2 cinnamon sticks; optional
1/3-1 cup brown sugar, or honey
*Cut the apples and orange into quarters and place in a large pot
*Sprinkle in 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (for a homemade recipe search "homemade pumpkin pie spice on fromscratchwithmaria.com)
*Add in the cinnamon sticks
*Fill the pot with water until the apples are covered by an inch or two
*Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
*Allow to cook for an hour with the top on
*After an hour, remove the top and smash the apples to release their juices using a potato masher, or something similar
*Add in 1/3 cup brown sugar; taste, and add a little more if needed
*Simmer for another hour with the lid on
*After an hour taste the cider to see if you need to add more sugar or honey, and add as much as you like
*Pour the cider over a strainer lined with cheese cloth into another large pot
*Allow to drain until the apples are cool enough to touch
*Bring the ends of the cheese cloth together and tie so that you can squeeze more of the juice out of the apples
*This will leave you with a luscious, and smooth cider
*Adjust spices and sweetness as needed; if the flavor is too strong you can add more water
*If there is some left over, let it cool, and store in the fridge for about 5 days