Go Try It: Make your own apple cider

Here's how our homemade apple cider looked right before we put the cover on the pot and reduced the heat to a simmer for two hours. While boiling the mix of water, apples and spices, the whole house smelled like the inside of an apple pie. JON BODELL / Insider staff
Here's how our homemade apple cider looked right before we put the cover on the pot and reduced the heat to a simmer for two hours. While boiling the mix of water, apples and spices, the whole house smelled like the inside of an apple pie. JON BODELL / Insider staff

Our most astute readers will notice that this isn’t exactly our first apples-themed issue ever. In fact, we did one last year right around this time, and for our Go Try It installment we made some apple crisp.

This year, we wanted to try a recipe again but take it in a different direction. That’s how we ended up making our own batch of apple cider.

We didn’t have a recipe to work with, so we did what we always do in times like this – we turned to the interwebs for ideas. A Google search for “apple cider recipe” brought us to allrecipes.com, which sounded like a legit website to us.

The ingredients were very simple: 10 apples, quartered; three-quarters of a cup of sugar; a tablespoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of ground allspice.

The instructions were also shockingly easy:

“Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours.” Then, “Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Drain cider again though a cheesecloth lined sieve. Refrigerate until cold.”

Seemed simple enough.

The first step was acquiring apples, which wouldn’t be hard around here. Since it’s right around the corner from our office, we went to Apple Hill Farm on our way home last week.

Inside the farmstand was co-owner Diane Souther. We asked her what type of apples to use to make cider, since our recipe didn’t specify, and she said everybody uses their own blend and that we should just pick out whatever we liked.

We went outside to browse through the “utility” apples – ones that are totally fine and good, just not as big as the “fancy” ones inside – and decided to grab a few of everything. We ended up with a collection of zestar (never heard of it), ginger gold, gala, sansa (never heard of it), cortland and macs, with a slight bias toward the macs, which we hear are very common in cooking applications.

Before going home, we stopped at a grocery store to grab some allspice, and right next to it was something called apple pie spice, so we grabbed some of that, too.

We got the apples sliced in short order, then added the water, sugar and spices – one reviewer online said he felt the cider he made was too sweet and recommended using just a half-cup of sugar, so we went with two-thirds of a cup. Then we put the pot on the burner and began the waiting game.

One thing you should prepare for is evaporation. We used a pot that had measurement lines inside, and by our count we lost a full 2 liters of water during boiling, so make sure you use a big pot and plenty of water.

After the two-hour simmer period, it was finally ready to strain, chill and drink. We got it strained and couldn’t wait a few hours for it to cool, so we tried a cup of it hot first.

It was really good – lighter in color and weight than typical cider, and with a bit less spice, but this Insider loved it.

It was just as good the next morning, after it had all night to chill in the fridge.

Try making your own batch, tweaking ingredients here and there to make it your own.

Author: Jon Bodell

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