Apple cider definitely falls into the “homemade is always better” category. You can buy all the store-bought cider you want and it will never come close to the quality you get by making your own. I just discovered this last week when I made homemade cider for the first time. Not only was it surprisingly easy (throw everything in a pot, let it simmer for a few hours, and strain), but I have never tasted cider quite this good. The apple flavors are bursting, while the fresh vanilla, orange, and spices compliment each other perfectly.
Making homemade apple cider is the perfect family activity for these longer fall evenings. Promise me, sometime this holiday season, you will give this recipe a shot. Deal?
Makes about 6 cups
- 6 medium apples (any kind)
- 6 cups of filtered water
- 1/3 cup turbinado sugar or maple syrup (or to taste)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 fresh vanilla bean (or 1 tbsp extract)
- 1 whole star anise
- 2 orange peel slices
Wash and cut the apples into quarters. Add them to a large pot with about 6-7 cups of water and start heating. Meanwhile, throw in a cinnamon stick, half a vanilla bean (or some extract), 2 slices of orange peel (about 1 inch square), and some sweetener.
Most cider recipes call for way too much sugar. Apples are naturally sweet, and you all know how much I hate sugar, so I only used about 1/3 cup of turbinado sugar for all 7 cups of cider and it was plenty sweet for me. If you have more of a sweet tooth, however, feel free to add more.
Leave the pot uncovered and bring to a boil. Allow to boil vigorously for about 30 minutes. Then, cover and let the cider simmer on lower heat for about 2 more hours. This would be a good time to make some healthy two-ingredient caramel sauce or some coconut whipped cream for the top. 🙂
After about 2 1/2 hours of cooking, remove from the heat and allow to thoroughly cool. Then, using a handheld potato masher, turn the apples into applesauce inside the pot to fully release their flavors.
Pour the cider through a strainer to remove all the apple pulp. You can either use any kitchen strainer and a wooden spoon to strain the liquid, or (recommended) you can filter through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.
Serve warm, either by itself or with some coconut whipped cream and caramel sauce. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in mason jars for 5-7 days.