The food out here

Hacking apple cider

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 10/27/21

Possibly the most sought-after drink of the fall season is apple cider. Whether you like it hot or cold, spiced or plain, bitter or sweet, the pursuit of its appley goodness is not only a great treat …

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The food out here

Hacking apple cider

Posted

Possibly the most sought-after drink of the fall season is apple cider. Whether you like it hot or cold, spiced or plain, bitter or sweet, the pursuit of its appley goodness is not only a great treat for the individual palate, but can also be a great family activity.

With agritourism in full swing in our little corner of the world, there are many local cideries that provide not just a quality cider but the experience of picking apples yourself, touring their facilities and enjoying the natural backdrop of fall whilst roaming these locales. For adults, there are even the options to peruse alcoholic alternatives with even more variations of taste and bite-y carbonation as a result of the fermentation.

There are few foods as American as an apple, and just like Americans, they come in so many kinds. This year as it happens, my wife and I are keeping it tame following our eventful summer season and as we approach the due date for our new baby.

We still enjoy our apples, however, and would not deprive our firstborn of some delicious cider to herald the fall. We were fortunate to find some cider in the local supermarket, but as an afterthought, we realized that with the current economic climate and the state of the national supply line, it may not be as easy for everyone to get some cider as it was for us.

My wife informed me that you could actually make cider yourself with some simple home ingredients. At first, I thought I would be out on the porch pressing apples by the dying light of the afternoon sun, but she quickly informed me that cider could be made with regular apple juice bought from the store plus some spices.

Before recommending it to you fine folks, I determined to test this questionable idea for myself. A quick online search yielded the recipe shared here and the results were… surprising.

Now admittedly, I was a little short on the exact ingredients required by the recipe, so we improvised with what we thought we needed at the store, but went there without the recipe in hand. If you are so fortunate as to go shopping prior to attempting this homemade cider, maybe bring the list provided here with you. Don’t be like me and guess.

As it turned out, we had no whole peppercorns.

Technically. We did have pickling spice mix, which has whole peppercorns in it, so in the wee hours of the night, I sat pouring pickling spices into a shallow paper plate, sorting out what I could discern as peppercorns. I can tell you if you do happen to want to make this late at night as we did, that sifting through tiny spice kernels at 11 p.m. is not as fun as it sounds.

Anyhow, the recipe itself is quite simple. We basically added all of the raw spices to a saucepan to toast them and help wake up the flavors before adding the apple juice to the pot. The recipe is set up for four servings; however, you can adjust according to what you feel you need.

On another note of not being prepared, I failed to check that the apple juice we purchased was unsweetened. I don’t feel it matters too much because the recipe provides an option to sweeten it later anyway. But this may be another preference for you to play with. Additionally, I don’t know how important this is, but my wife informed me we should get a juice that was not from concentrate for a better product. She knows how to make everything yummy, so I’m passing along her wisdom to you all, despite my lack of full comprehension.

Anyway, after we had poured ourselves a nice hot cup, the result was quite similar to if not indistinguishable from cider fresh-pressed. I think I may hold on to this little trick for a cold winter day when we’re stuck in the house. That cider sure does a number to warm your bones.

Apple cider
Recipe courtesy of www.sweetpeachef.com/hot-apple-cider/
Ingredients
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups unsweetened apple juice
½ tablespoon orange zest
pure maple syrup, optional for added sweetness
Combine spices in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until aromatic, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the nutmeg, and stir to combine. Then add in the apple juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, depending on how strong you like your cider.
Pour juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a mug. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy!

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