Apple Cider

One of the nicest and refreshing drinks to have on a warm day (in my view) is a glass of chilled homemade natural apple cider. It's easy to make, requires little effort and contains natural ingredients. There's also that rewarding feeling, knowing you've made it yourself.

Ingredients:
  • 3lbs (1.4Kg's) apples (whole). Any eating variety works well.
  • 2lbs (900gms) sugar
  • 1.8 Gals (7 liters) water. (NB - this is US gallons)
  • 1-2 tablespoons bruised ginger
  • 2-3 lemons
Equipment needed:
  • 2 x 5 gal (20 L) food-grade buckets, one with a lid. A beer brewing container is even better.
  • not essential, but useful - access to an electric food processor or grinder/mincer
  • colander or strainer
  • muslin or cheese cloth. Alternatively, you could use a pillow case as I did. Choose a tightly woven one so the small pieces of apple pulp are filtered when the mixture is strained. Make sure you rinse it under cold water before use.
Here are the steps I follow:
cider 1. - place apples whole in a plastic bag and close the top. Freeze the apples for 3 days.   Of course, that will be a recycled bag, won't it?? Yeah, I thought so. Good.

2. Defrost apples, then cut into small pieces. Don't discard the pips, cores and skins. Everything goes in!
cider 3. Place the defrosted apples into the plastic bucket
cider 4. Slice and dice them into even smaller pieces. Use an electric hand whisk or food processor. Don't worry if there are still some larger pieces. Remember the skins, cores and pips are all added.

If you don't have access to something electrical to help with this, there's nothing wrong with a bit of old-fashioned persuasion! Cut the apples into smaller pieces and possibly use a potato masher or similar to "munch" them.
cider 5. Pour in 1.8 Gals (7 liters) of cold water.
cider 6. Stir.
cider 7. Cover and leave for 7 days, stirring morning and night.
cider 8. Strain the mixture through a colander or strainer into the second bucket, to remove larger pieces. Try not to disturb the bottom sediment too much - you may have to discard the final 2-3 cups of liquid. Rinse the first bucket clean.
cider 9. Pour the sugar into the first bucket. Notice I've used unrefined raw sugar which is all we use in our household. We don't use brown or white sugar for anything. Unrefined raw sugar contains many minerals and vitamins which are removed during the refinement process. It's a much healthier option.  

10. add grated lemon rind, lemon juice and ginger.  

11. Stir to dissolve the sugar. In my case, I poured the mixture back into the first bucket which has a lid.
cider 12. Cover and leave for 24 hours
cider 13. Strain the mixture through cheese cloth (or similar) into the other bucket. I use an old pillowcase, a clean one of course which was rinsed in cold water before using.
cider 14. Pour the mixture through a funnel into clean bottles. You can use recycled soda drink bottles, but as I don't drink that stuff I purchased the PET bottles pictured here which I re-use. PET bottles used for food storage are regarded by experts as being safe for this purpose. PET plastics are easy to recycle and can even be used to make polar fleece material! If you're worried about using plastics, use glass bottles with screw tops.
cider 15. Mmmm, Final Product. Leave for at least 3-4 weeks before drinking chilled. Longer is better though as it allows the sugar to convert into alcohol and you'll get some fizz too!