Come fall, I get excited about a few things: wearing my purple scarf, pulling on my black boots and drinking spiced apple cider. If I can do all three in the same day, even better. Especially if there’s a good book and a warm wood stove involved.
The scarf and boots are a fairly recent addition to my fall favorites, but I’ve always been a fan of spiced apple cider. Frankly, I’m happy to drink it any time of year – be it 80 degrees out or freezing. It’s just so good!
But last year I discovered how easy it is to make a new favorite – DIY spiced apple cider.
First, you need some apple cider, which you can buy or make yourself. Frankly, this is something I buy, but I think I’ll make it next time since it seems pretty simple.
What’s the difference between apple juice and apple cider? I had to look this up because I wasn’t completely sure. Here’s what the state of Massachusetts has to say on the matter:
Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment. It takes about one third of a bushel (about 40 medium apples) to make a gallon of cider.
To make fresh cider, apples are washed, cut and ground into a mash that is the consistency of applesauce. Layers of mash are wrapped in cloth, and put into wooded racks. A hydraulic press squeezes the layers, and the juice flows into refrigerated tanks. This juice is bottled as apple cider.
Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice. (source)
Homemade Cider (optional)
A simpler way to make apple cider than the directions above would be to use a blender and cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. To make about a quart, you’ll need:
- 10 – 12 medium apples (preferably organic or from a farm you know doesn’t spray apples with chemicals)
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
Wash, quarter and core the apples. Put them in the blender (you may need to do a few batches if your blender won’t hold all of the apples). Puree the apples.
Using cheesecloth, squeeze as much juice out as possible into a bowl. Or put the strainer over a bowl and pour the puree into the strainer. You may need to use the back of a spoon to press the juice through.
This is a great project for the fall, when fresh apples are aplenty and much cheaper than any other time of year.
Next, you need to make some mulling spices. It’s pretty easy and you may only need a quick trip to the bulk bin of your favorite store (or a visit to website that sells bulk spices) to get any of the spices you don’t already have on hand.
Homemade Mulling Spices
- 4 Cinnamon sticks – chopped up a bit so it’ll get evenly dispersed throughout the mix (find cinnamon sticks here)
- 3 Tbsp diced dried orange peel
- ¼ cup whole allspice (find whole allspice here)
- ¼ cup whole cloves (find whole cloves here)
- 8 whole nutmeg – chop them up a bit for easier dispersion (find whole nutmeg here)
- 8 whole star anise (find star anise pods here)
Place all of the ingredients into a mason jar, put on the cap and shake until it’s well-mixed. Don’t forget a label!
In addition to writing the contents on the label, you could include the following recipe for spiced apple cider. (That would make a great gift!)
How to Make Spiced Cider
- 2 Tbsp mulling spices
- 4 cups apple cider
- Small muslin sack with drawstring OR mesh strainer
- Medium sauce pan
Measure the apple cider and pour it in the sauce pan.
If you’re using a muslin sack, put the 2 Tbsp of mulling spices into the sack, tie the string and put it in with the cider. If you’ll be using a strainer, just measure out the mulling spices and put them in the cider. (You’ll just strain out the spices at the end using your strainer.)
Turn on your stove and bring the cider to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least 5 minutes.
Carefully remove the muslin sack from the cider (I use tongs). If you didn’t use the muslin, carefully strain the spices from the cider. I typically put the strainer over my mug and pour, but, of course, you have to be super careful.
photo credit to catchmyparty.com