With the crisp temperatures and ruby leaves covering my backyard, it feels like fall around here. We even had our first snow last weekend, which means my fireplace is starting to stretch its muscles after the summer hiatus, and I've been enjoying a few favorite Halloween movies in my downtime. Given all these favorite fall happenings, it feels like a good time to get cozy with a steamy mug of homemade apple cider.
Although I'm usually in a funk at the end of summer, I finally find myself fully embracing fall. Summer is my favorite season, and I truly believe Colorado is at its best in the summer. Even though it seems like most people are excited to exchange fall for summer, I always struggle. I live for heat, sunshine and patios.
However, these fall recipes that have graced the blog over the last few weeks have helped me get over that hump. Deep in my heart, I'll always miss summer, but I'm settling into that snuggly feeling of fall. Anyone else feel the same struggle? If that's you, this homemade apple cider should help you feel those fall vibes.
Making homemade apple cider is surprisingly easy, but it does take some time. Fortunately, I enlisted the help of my trusty slow cooker to help make the process easy. My slow cooker was filled to the tip-top, so I recommend using at least a 6-quart slow cooker.
If your slow cooker is on the smaller side, you can still make this cider but half the recipe instead. You could also cook the cider in a large stockpot. Obviously, you won't be able leave the house like you could with a slow-cooker, but it's the perfect relaxing activity for those lazy afternoons.
To start, we core and slice the apples. I like to take care of this step in one swoop, so I use one of those nifty gadgets that slices and cores all at the same time. In case you're interested, I included a link for it below. And don't worry about removing the peel. After cooking, the peel will slide right off. Once we slice our apples, we throw them into the slow cooker or stockpot and cover them with water.
The typical cider guidance is to cover the apples with an inch of water, which would be good advice if it weren't for this thing called physics. Apples float, so you can't cover them with water. Rather than actually covering the apples with water, we get to use a little imagination. Add enough water so that if apples did sink, it would look like they'd be covered by an inch or so of water.
I don't know why that advice is standard, but it drives me crazy. Why are you telling me to do something that's physically impossible? That's ridiculous. Ever bob for apples? Bobbing for apples is fun because they float. If you had to dunk your head into the bottom of a bucket while desperately gnawing for sunken apples, it would feel like a death trap and take out all the fun. But I digress.
Once you add the apples and water, toss in some spices along with a sliced orange. You can leave the orange peel or cut off the peel before adding to the cider. The peel adds a slight bitterness, which gives the cider a touch of complexity. That said, the added bitterness isn't for everyone, so if you'd rather just have pure orange flavor, cut off the peel. If children will be partaking in the cider fun, I recommend leaving out the peel to be on the safe side.
After several hours, the apples will be soft enough to mash into the warm mixture. I find a potato masher is handy for this step. We mash the apples until they turn into pulp and then strain. Once we strain, add dark brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Give the cider a taste. While the cider should be well-spiced, feel free to sprinkle in any additional spices if you want a little more kick or add a little water if you prefer a milder flavor.
We now strain the mixture one more time, and we're ready to drink. You're welcome to drink this homemade apple cider as is, but I like to add a little bourbon to mine for obvious reasons. Spiced rum is another good option.
This cider also freezes well. Considering that it's just Matt and me with our furry dog child, who gets plenty of treats but not apple cider, an entire batch of this recipe is a lot. I like to freeze the cider in 2-cup batches and enjoy as needed. Just last Friday, I pulled out some frozen apple cider to make cocktails, and it was as delicious as it was fresh. Speaking of, I'll have a super easy apple cider cocktail on here soon so stay tuned!
When it comes to pairing fruit and spice with a savory dish, pork is my go-to recommendation, and it works beautifully here. Specifically, I love a roasted herb pork loin with this homemade apple cider. The caramelization you get from roasted pork works well with sweetness from the apples and dark brown sugar while a few savory herbs add balance.
If you're in the mood for something sweet, I love a maple-flavored dessert --- say a maple panna cotta or creme brulee. Maple always pairs nicely with dark brown sugar and is the perfect backbone to all the spices. Plus, the vanilla from the creamy custards is always delicious with something sweet.
Now that it's the perfect time of year to cuddle up with a warm mug of homemade apple cider, I hope you try this recipe.
Craving More Cozy Fall Recipes?
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Homemade Apple Cider
- 5 Honeycrisp apples cored and sliced
- 5 Granny Smith apples cored and sliced
- 1 orange sliced
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons ground allspice
- ½ tablespoon ground nutmeg preferably freshly grated
- ½ tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- Bourbon or spiced rum optional
- Place apple slices in a slow cooker that holds at least 6 quarts. Fill with water until it looks like the water could cover the apples by an inch if they were submerged.
- Add orange slices and spices. Cover and cook on low for seven hours or high heat for three hours. Alternatively, place ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat and continue to simmer until apples are tender enough to mash into a pulp, about two to three hours.
- Using a potato masher, mash the apples until they turn into a pulp. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh sieve. If desired, strain a second time. Stir in dark brown sugar until it dissolves and taste. You can always add more spice or sugar if you find it necessary or water for a milder flavor.
- Pour in mugs and add an optional shot of bourbon or spiced rum if desired. Enjoy!
- Orange peel can add a little bitterness. Some people enjoy the little bite and complexity it adds, but if you'd rather avoid that, cut the orange peel off the slices. If you plan to serve to children, go ahead and cut off the peel.
- The apple peel can stay on and will easily slide off after cooking during the mashing process.
- Apple cider freezes well if you can't finish the entire batch.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.