Looking for Apple Cider: How to make and bottle your own homemade Apple Cider (directions, recipe, with photos and free) in 2023? Scroll down this page and follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above. If you are having a hard time finding canning lids, I've used these, and they're a great price & ship in 2 days.
So, what is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? The Massachusetts Dept of Agriculture tells us that apple cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone filtration to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment, like apple juice has. In other words, apple cider is simply raw, unfiltered apple juice..
In the commercial cider mill, apples are washed, cut and ground into a mash that is the consistency of applesauce. Layers of the mash are wrapped in cloth, and put into the wooden racks of a press. The hydraulic press squeezes the layers, and presses the juice out, where it is collected and put into refrigerated tanks, which are kept very close to freezing. This juice is bottled, as needed, as apple cider. Of course, there is also fermented cider and hard cider - see this page to make those!
Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Of course, some apple cider is pasteurized, too.
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention.
The most important step! You need apples that are sweet - that will eliminate the need to add any sugar. Most apple cider doesn't have as much natural sweetness or flavor because they use underripe or off-spec apples. You can choose the best apples you can get and make far better apple cider. Don't get me wrong, it is fine to use "seconds", as long as you cut out the bruised spots!
If you can, choose apples that are naturally sweet, like Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Rome and always use a mixture - never just one type. This year I used 4 bushels of red delicious and one each of Fuji, Yellow Delicious, Gala and Rome. This meant it was so sweet I did not need to add any sugar at all. And the flavor is great! The Fuji's and Gala's give it an aromatic flavor! Honeycrisp and Pink Lady are also excellent, sweet, flavorful apples.
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. But for large quantities, you will find that real* farmer's markets, like the Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices. In 2004, they were available from late September at $11 to $16 per bushel. 2005 prices have been in the $14 to $20 range at the real farmer's markets, like the Atlanta-Forest park Georgia State Farmer's Market and orchards in the southeast of the U.S.
You will get about 12 to 20 quarts of apple cider per bushel of apples. Count on 15 or 16 quarts per bushel.
* - not the cutesy, fake farmer's markets that are just warehouse grocery stores that call themselves farmer's markets.
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used. Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot apple cider.
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 10 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the apples in plain cold water.
Chopping them is much faster if you use one of those apple corer/segmenters - you just push it down on an apple and it cuts it into segments. Note: You do not peel the apples! You will put the entire apple into the pot to cook.
Pretty simple put about 4 inches of water (I used filtered tap water) on the bottom of a huge, thick-bottomed pot. Put the lid on, and the heat on high. When it gets really going, turn it to medium high until the apples are soft through and through.
Hardware stores sell a fruit steamer. I haven't used one yet, but I hear they work well.
NOTE: If you have a electric juicer, you can simply juice the chopped apples, then skip to step 7 to heat the juice to boiling.
And if you want to make hard apple cider, there is also this reall cool and yet inexpensive high grade still!
Now you want to separate the liquid from the pulp, skins, seeds, stems, etc. There are quite a variety of ways to filter the apples.
Note: One of the easiest ways to extract juice is by using a steam juicer available at many hardware and variety stores. If you plan on making a lot of juice or doing this every year, it may be worth buying one. This unique piece of equipment allows you to conveniently extract juice by steaming the fruit which is held in a retaining basket. The juice drops into a reservoir which has a tube outlet for removal. Follow manufacturer's instructions for using steam juicer.
If your goal is to make apple cider, you will still have a lot of apple pulp left, so I'd recommend you make apple sauce from it (see this page)
Put the apple cider into a large pot. If you want, add cinnamon to taste. You should not need to add any sugar.
The apple cider does not need any further cooking; just get it heat it to a low simmering boil and keep it hot until you get enough made to fill the jars you will put into the canner (Canners hold seven jars at once, whether they are quart or pint size)
Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled apple cider of
the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Put them in
the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 or 2 inches of water and
boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint or quart
jars for 5 minutes and half gallon jars for 10 min. This assumes
you kept the juice hit until you filled the jars. If you are at an
altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart below Recommended process time for
in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack
0 - 1,000 ft
1,001 - 6,000 ft
Above 6,000 ft
Pints or Quarts
Recommended process time for
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
Home Canning Kits
See the seller's website for more information, features, pricing and user reviews!
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used
to make everything from apple juice to jams and jellies to tomato and
spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need: the
canner, jar rack, Jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel,
labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. You will never need anything else except more jars and lids!
Norpro 1951 Manual Food Strainer, with optional motor; (almost identical to Victorio V250, Villaware and Roma models, all discontinued)
See the seller's website for more information, features, pricing and user reviews!
Deluxe Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars? Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes? Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!
most recent version of
the Ball Blue Book