So I’m doing this crazy thing called Dry July, where you give up all alcohol for a month. To be honest, I thought it would be harder than it has been, seeing as I work in a bar and all. My only problem is that when I feel like drinking something other than water or tea, I don’t really know what to do. I like coffee, but I can only have so many flat whites a day, and I don’t drink juice or soda or anything like that. And so, I had the brilliant idea to make virgin apple cider.
Every single person I spoke to about this gave me the same blank stare. “You can’t drink cider,” they said, and when I insisted that in the US we have non-alcoholic cider, they shook their heads and told me that I was talking about apple juice. And so naturally I made an enormous batch of my cider and made everyone drink it so they would know what I was talking about. And almost everyone asked for the recipe.
This is incredibly easy, but you do have to cook the apples for quite a while. I recommend putting it on the stove while you watch a movie or something in the other room, as most of the two hours of cooking time is hands-off. You don’t even have to stir. The recipe below should make between 1 1/2 and 2 liters of cider.
Virgin Apple Cider
(Adapted from the One Ingredient Chef.)
6 apples, quartered (but no need to worry about the cores or seeds – you’ll strain them out later)
6 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup or sugar (I used 1/3-cup maple syrup, but I also made quite a dry cider, so sweeten to taste)
1 splash vanilla extract
2 pieces orange zest (peeled, not grated)
1. Add all of the above ingredients to a large pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Boil, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Cover and lower heat. Let simmer for about 2 more hours.
3. Remove from heat. Let cool briefly, then mash up the apple pieces with a potato masher and let cool completely. I just let the whole pot sit (covered, though not refrigerated) overnight.
4. Strain your mixture through cheesecloth. I found the easiest way to do this was to set a colander over a big bowl (just to have something to rest the cheesecloth on) and slowly squeeze the juice out of the gross pulpy mess your cooked apples have become, ladle-full by ladle-full. This is tedious, and your hands will be sticky afterward. But at the end you have cider, so I think it’s worth it.
5. Store in jars or bottles and reheat before drinking. Actually, it’s not bad cold, either.