How to Make Apple Cider

You don't even need to buy apples if you have an abandoned apple tree nearby. Just gather the fruit, and press into delicious cider for pennies per gallon.

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    At the cider mill, your apples quickly become cider.
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    Get a group of friends together for a cider making day.

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Forty gallons of apple cider for 17¢ per gallon! That's what our family stored away in the pantry and freezer last year ... and that's how inexpensively you can bottle your own "liquid gold". This year — with apple-squeezin' time already upon us — we're planning to double our production and put up enough of the sweet, brown nectar to last us until October 1977. And, even allowing for inflation, we expect our costs to run only about 20¢ per gallon.

The virtues of apple juice seem almost endless. It tastes good. It's a natural sweetener and a plentiful winter source of vitamin C. The tart squeezin's are said to greatly aid digestion and — when drunk in the morning — increase body performance all day. Being mildly laxative, cider acts to cleanse the digestive tract. That old aphorism about "an apple a day" would seem to hold true even of the liquefied fruit!

Commercial apple juice, of course, is strained of all sediment, pasteurized, and diluted to a set Brix — or sugar concentration — prior to being bottled. (Often, too, preservatives are added.) In contrast, the cider you take home from the local mill—made from apples you picked — will have nothing added or subtracted: it'll be richer and darker in appearance and abundantly more flavorful and aromatic than the pale, clear juice sold in supermarkets. And it'll be more healthful, too.

If you want to have a supply of squeezin's on hand for the coming year, now's the time to start planning. You'll have to [1] get your hands on a few bushels of apples, [2] locate a cider mill, [3] round up a good number of jugs or other containers, and [4] decide whether you're going to preserve your juice by canning it or freezing it. Come with me, and I'll help you get started.

Forage for Apples

Because we're fortunate enough to have wild apple trees on our land, we've never had to spend a penny of our money or a minute of our time planting, cultivating, thinning blossoms, or otherwise caring for the trees from which we gather our fruit each year. Don't fret, however, if you haven't been blessed with apple trees in your backyard ... your cider making costs still needn't be any higher than ours.

Consider this: Every autumn, billions of apples fall from the heavily laden branches of thousands of wild and abandoned trees ... only to spill onto roadsides, pour down hills, and rot on the ground. All you have to do is locate — and put to good use — a tiny fraction of these tons of fruit which go to waste each year in abandoned orchards or on public land.

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