Making apple juice is a fall activity the whole family can participate in, as well as enjoy the rewards: a glass of freshly squeezed juice. Making apple juice isn’t difficult, though it can be labor intensive depending on the equipment used. There’s a lot to do, from washing the apples to pouring the finished product into containers, so everyone is sure to find a task they’ll enjoy.
Start With Apples and a Press
At the minimum, cider makers will need a press. This is usually a cylinder-shaped with spaced individual slats. A bag, made of plastic burlap or cheesecloth, fits inside the press. A round board which fits inside the cylinder is placed on top of the bag full of apple chunks, and then hand-cranked down as far as possible, squeezing out streams of juice. This method is labor intensive as the apples need to be cut into chunks.
Some Cider Press Set-ups Include Motorized Chopper
More advanced cider presses may include a motorized chopper which chops the apples tossed into the hopper and pours them into the wooden cylinder. When the bag is full, it’s taken out from under the hopper, and then cranked by hand.
Cider presses alone start at about $50; fancier versions, which include a motorized grinder, can run upwards of $1,000. The advanced versions allow more apples to be processed more quickly. Families who drink apple juice year ‘round may find the equipment pays for itself in a couple of seasons.
Home-made Cider Can be Made with a Variety of Apples
Almost any kind of apples can be used to make juice. Some people may prefer a single type of apple, while others like juice made with a variety of apples. Fujis, Red and Golden Delicious, Empire, Winesap and Granny Smith can be combined to make a tasty cider. Varying the amounts of different apples will affect the taste.
Toast the Holidays with Juice in Wine Glasses
Pour freshly pressed cider into wine glasses to toast the season; it makes the drink look special. Or add a cinnamon stick and a couple of whole cloves to a mug full, and heat it in the microwave for a quick hot-spiced drink. Pour it over chicken and simmer for a deliciously sweet and fragrant-smelling dinner dish.
Home-made cider freezes well, and can be stored in thoroughly cleansed plastic milk jugs or purified water containers. Enjoying a tall, cool glass of juice on a hot summer day will bring back memories of cooler times.
Autumn, Time to Harvest Apples & Pumpkins: Apple Cider, Hot Buttered Rum & Pumpkin Juice Recipes
Nothing quite evokes autumn quite like fall foliage, apple cider,and pumpkins. Want more than pumpkin pie? The Harry Potter books and movies have inspired a new use for pumpkins. Fresh pumpkin makes delicious juice, hot or cold. It’s somewhat surprising that pumpkin juice isn’t sold by small producers alongside apple cider in the fall.
Pumpkin Juice Recipe for Harry Potter Fans
- 1 Small fresh pumpkin
- 2-3 Cups pineapple orange juice
- 3 Cups apple cider
- 1 Cup sugar, more or less, to taste
- Cut the pumpkin in half. Save the seeds to roast later (see instructions below). Use the side of a large spoon to scrape the inside of the pumpkin clean.
- Cut the pumpkin into small chunks and boil until it is very soft and somewhat clear. It will also be darker. Remove from the water and let cool.
- Peel the cooled pumpkin pieces and chop them into even smaller pieces.
- Place the cooked pumpkin in a blender in small batches. Blend with just enough pineapple orange juice to make it smooth.
- To 5 cups of the pumpkin, pineapple orange juice mixture, add 3 cups of apple cider and 1 cup of sugar, more or less, to taste.
Serve fresh pumpkin juice hot or iced with a cinnamon stick for stirring and a sprig of fresh mint (if available). Add a tsp of spiced butter to hot pumpkin juice.
Spiced Butter Recipe for Hot Fall Drinks
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 TBS ground cloves
- 3 TBS ground cinnamon
Blend the spices into the butter and place the mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator. You can use a pastry bag to pipe tsp size pieces into pretty shapes which can be frozen.
Hot Buttered Rum Recipe
- Fill a heatproof mug halfway with either apple cider or pumpkin juice.
- Add 1 tsp spiced butter and microwave until hot.
- Add 2 tsp honey and fill with rum.
- Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve.
Spiced Apple Cider for a Crowd
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 TBS ground cinnamon
- 1 TBS ground cloves
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
Put all ingredients into a large crockpot 2-3 hours before serving. This gets even better the longer it brews.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Don’t throw away the seeds. Spread them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. They roast quickly, so be careful not to let them burn.
Apples and pumpkins help to ease in winter. With or without rum, cider and pumpkin juice will continue to warm you throughout the winter.