As I mentioned in a previous post, I am excited about fall this year. So the apples from the CSA every week have given me plenty of opportunity to embrace that. Apple butter? Check! Homemade pectin to use in future canning? Check! Now, homemade apple cider – the finest of fall beverage treats (excepting, maybe, the pumpkin spice latte). In my opinion, there is nothing as homey, comforting, and warming as a nice hot mug of apple cider, resplendent with cinnamon, apple, brown sugar, and citrus flavor. The star anise and clove flavor lingers a bit in the background, highlighting the other flavors in a way that is difficult to describe. Like the heady musk of fall leaves and the bring orange of pumpkins, the flavors of the cider forcefully conjure up the feeling of fall. It’s so easy to make it at home and makes the whole place smell absolutely wonderful.
Homemade Apple Cider
About one dozen apples, any variety, washed and quartered
1 Valencia orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1/2 cup brown sugar
3-4 3″ cinnamon sticks
2 pods star anise
1 tsp. cloves
Water to cover
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot. Add water to cover.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil, uncovered, about an hour.
C0ver and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about two hours.
After about two hours, use a potato masher to mash up the apples a bit. Uncover and reduce another 30 minutes to an hour, until deep golden brown and spiced. Taste, reducing as necessary.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth into a pitcher. Reduce for another half hour over medium heat to maintain a bare simmer. Store in the refrigerator, reheating as necessary.