Homemade Apple Juice

By Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest, excerpted with permission from the new book, “Drink the Harvest.”
Homemade Apple Juice

Apple juice and cider are tasty treats, especially homemade concoctions.

This apple juice is different from our Apple Family Cider [a reference to another recipe in the book]. The juice comes from apples that are cooked with filtered water and then strained, whereas apple cider is pressed raw and without any water added. Apples can be a bountiful harvest, so don’t overload your pot and bowls and don’t make your juice bag too heavy.

The flavor will vary with the kinds of apples used, and whether you use just one kind of apple or a mixture. A mix of tart apple varieties makes the best juice; sweet varieties or using a single variety can produce juice that seems bland or flat in comparison but is still worthwhile. This pleasant juice carries the aroma of an open meadow, and its smooth, mild flavor makes it a perfect everyday drink for children.

Makes approximately 4 quarts

Prep time: About 2 hours, plus canning

Ingredients

  • 15–20 pounds of fresh apples, quartered, bad parts cut out
  • Filtered water
  • Ascorbic acid, ¼ teaspoon per quart of juice (for canning)
  • Sugar, 2–4 tablespoons per quart of juice (optional, for canning)

1. Put the apples into a large nonreactive stockpot, and then add filtered water to cover the fruit by about ½ inch. Bring the contents to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing the apples as they cook. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, and skim off any foam.

3. Line a large colander with two layers of cheesecloth that have been dampened with filtered water. Set the colander over a large bowl, making sure that the colander sits well above the bottom of the bowl and the juice can flow freely.

4. Slowly pour the hot apple liquid into the cheesecloth-lined colander.

5. Leave the juice to strain for 1–2 hours. Do not squeeze or force the apples through the cheesecloth, or the juice will become cloudy.

This juice can be used immediately or preserved by canning. 

Cook’s tip

This juice is very mild and may taste bland when first made without the addition of more sugar, so heat the juice with mulling spices for a winter treat. For the adults, add rum and a touch of butter. With or without added sugar, the flavor of canned apple juice seems to deepen and improve after a few months.

Canning notes

  • Measure the juice by carefully ladling it off the sediments. Pour the measured juice into a nonreactive stockpot.
  • Simmer juice at 190 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Add sugar, if using (2–4 tablespoons per quart), and stir to dissolve.
  • Add ascorbic acid to sterilized jars (¼ teaspoon per quart).
  • Fill the jars with liquid, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Apply sterilized lids and bands, being careful not to overtighten. Process both pint and quart jars in boiling-water bath for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.

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