With the recent rain storms came the all to familiar autumn chill that accompanies this time of year in the Rocky Mountains. It is a time of year I love and dread all at the same time. The beauty of the changing foliage, the delicious recipes that accompany apple picking season, and of course the lovely sweaters! However, though some may celebrate and dance to the end of summers long hot days…I dread the cold short dark days of winter. I can appreciate a beautiful snow crested hill or a crisp sleigh ride under warm blankets, or watching the snow fall out my living room window while I cuddle up next to the fire with a good book…but the days between when I leave for work in the wet, cold, dark and come home in the same act as a reminder that winter simply isn’t my best time of year. There are however the two lovely seasons that flank winter and are filled with an endless array of activities and food that I love to get caught up in. So here’s to Autumn! It’s true it is the herald of winter…which is why I intend to enjoy it while it lasts!
Home Made Apple Cider – I made up this recipe after looking up multiple recipes online, and not finding myself particularly satisfied with any. It turned out really well. I hope you enjoy it!
What you will need. Apples, water and/or apple juice (we had apple juice I wanted to use), vanilla, honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, a stock pot, potato masher, knife, strainer/cheese cloth, and a cup to enjoy!
Start by adding your apple juice and equal parts water to your stock pot and set heat to medium. (If you have enough apples you can use just water because the quantity of apples will provide enough flavor and acid. However, if you have apple juice in the fridge you want to use…or you only have a few apples I recommend throwing in the apple juice and adding equal parts water.)
While the apple juice is coming up to temp chop and core your apples. Then add them to the pot skins and all.
Next add your spices cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and whole cloves to the pot. (You may have noticed I didn’t include measuring spoons into the list of things you will need at the top. Even if you are new to cooking do not fret – get comfortable with your own tastes and preferences and then go the old fashion route and add a palm full of spices and herbs here and there to suit your tastes)
Next add a few drops of vanilla, a good squeeze of honey and finally a pinch of salt. These three ingredients add the sweet note in the background to compliment the spices. (Don’t forget your salt! It may seem odd but sweeteners simply won’t pop the same way without it.)
Stir to combine all ingredients and let simmer over low for a few hours until the house is fragrant with autumn spices and the apples are tender.
Once the apples are nice and tender go to town with your potato masher (or other smashing tool). Break up all those apples to release the flavors, juices and color. Then allow to simmer further (you can simmer for 30min or a few hours at this point. It is to your discretion. Just sip and taste as it simmers until it has the flavor you are looking for. Add any additional sweeteners or spices as needed.
Once the cider is to your level of sweet and spicy remove from heat and pour through a thin mesh strainer or through a cheesecloth.
If using a strainer lift strainer and allow excess juice to come out before removing apple skins, pulp and clove seeds. If you are using a cheese cloth gather the cheese cloth together, lift over bowl and squeeze out remaining juice. With a strainer you may need to strain the cider more than once.
Finally pour yourself a nice hot cup of delicious spicy cider and enjoy! Store the remaining cider in the fridge or serve immediately to family or guests. This cider turned out very well and can be served hot or cold! Add a little caramel sauce for a delicious alternative for those with a sweet tooth.
As an added bonus…if you love how your cider turned out this can make a wonderful hostess gift! Simply pour your delicious cider into a lovely container (simple glass bottles with tops can be purchased at your local craft store and the dollar store), and then present this delicious beverage to the host of the next fall party you attend.