Fall's Sweetest Harvest: Homemade Apple Cider

If you want to try really delicious homemade apple cider, look for fresh local cider in the fall. You can find it from small cider mills, or press it yourself with a backyard cider press.

  • Fall is the season for enjoying fresh homemade apple cider.
    Fall is the season for enjoying fresh homemade apple cider.
    Photo by Walter Chandoha
  • The hydraulic press is another type of press, most often used by commercial cider makers.
    The hydraulic press is another type of press, most often used by commercial cider makers.
    Photo by Lynn Karlin
  • Jaffrey Press.
    Jaffrey Press.
    Photo Courtesy of Jaffrey Manufacturing Co.
  • Correll Press.
    Correll Press.
    Photo Courtesy of Correll Cider Presses

  • Fall is the season for enjoying fresh homemade apple cider.
  • The hydraulic press is another type of press, most often used by commercial cider makers.
  • Jaffrey Press.
  • Correll Press.

Try real, homemade apple cider and enjoy the most delightful flavors under the sun.

Try Homemade Apple Cider

Too few people have tasted really good apple cider. That’s because it’s rare to drink fresh apple cider these days, and it’s even harder to find cider made with apple varieties that give it just the right mix of sweet and tart flavors. Instead, most commercial apple cider is made from sweet, but rather bland apples, filtered and then pasteurized. (The product we call “apple juice” is typically even more heavily filtered and is often made from concentrate.)

But when the juice is squeezed from a blend of flavorful apple varieties and consumed fresh from the apple press, there’s a remarkable difference. Real homemade cider is a spectacular full-bodied beverage with rich and complex flavors.

While fresh apple cider is often enjoyed “sweet” as a non-alcoholic beverage, the traditional drink is “hard,” or fermented. In fact, until Prohibition, virtually all beverages known as “cider” were alcoholic, and in most places outside the United States, that’s still the case. But North American hard cider has a long history and is making a comeback. Justly so, because with the right apples and a little skill, good hard cider can be as textured and varied as any wine or beer. (See How to Make Hard Cider.)

If your mouth is watering, you may be happy to know that great apple cider is closer to home than you think. Every fall, you can experience the rich flavors of sweet cider by finding local producers. (Try your local farmers market, or search for cider mills near you at the Local Harvest website.) Commercial hard cider varieties with good depth of flavor aren’t as easy to find, but it’s relatively simple to make your own from good sweet cider. Some homesteaders take their passion for cider even further: Do-it-yourself cidermakers may plant their own apple trees, harvest the fruit, peel it and grind it in a backyard cider press. Here’s how the process works and why it can become a great hobby, or even a lifelong obsession.

Homemade Applie Cider: Sweet Variety!

For as long as people have planted apple trees, we’ve known that apples do not grow true to type from seed. Instead, each seed from a single apple produces distinctly different-tasting fruit. Most of these apples are not sweet enough to be eaten fresh, so nearly all the apple trees people plant are produced by grafting branches, tips or buds from these few sweet varieties to make new trees. But there are a few advantages to planting from seed. One is that you never know when a tree with a new and delicious variety of apples will grow right in your back yard. Another is that even if the apples from your tree turn out to be bitter, you can still turn them into a delicious hard cider. In fact, as Michael Pollan writes in The Botany of Desire, we know that Johnny Appleseed’s famous trees were intended to grow apples for hard cider, not for eating: Because the trees were grown from seed, most of the apples would have been too bitter to be used in any other way.

10/26/2014 9:23:28 PM

I am wondering if you get the same product from a centrifugal force juicer, like an Acme. It also shreds the pulp and extracts the juice. Any thoughts, anyone?

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