An easy cozy autumn beverage - make your own homemade apple cider with spices and try out a spiked amaretto cider cocktail to warm up on a cool fall evening.
Apple cider just isn't a thing in the UK - at least not in the style an American would expect. In Britain, the term cider most commonly refers to alcoholic hard cider. Spiced non-alcoholic apple cider, the kind you would buy in the US from an apple orchard, isn't generally available. In order to scratch the itch of the autumnal beverage craving, it's best to make your own!
Making Homemade Apple Cider
So, as I learned a few years ago, making homemade apple cider is actually an extremely easy process. In terms of equipment, it requires:
- A large pot - a stock pot or a large vat for making soup.
- A strainer or sieve.
- Something to store the cider in.
Ingredients for Spiced Apple Cider
The ingredients are pretty flexible and open to alterations for personal preference. This is especially true in terms of the spices used.
The basic ingredients for this recipe are:
- Apples - fresh apples, quartered. These can be red or green apples - whatever is in season and easiest to come by. They do not need to be peeled or cored. Everything can go in the pot!
- Sugar - I like to use a mix of caster sugar (or granulated) and light brown muscovado.
- Citrus - lemon will give the best touch of sharpness to the cider, though many people also use orange. This will depend a bit on the apples being used. Apples in the UK often leave a lot to be desired in terms of crispness, so if you're working with apples that are a bit past their best, I recommend lemon.
- Spices - I like a mix of cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and star anise.
- Water - tap water or cool/room temperature water.
What Spices Go In Apple Cider
Making your own cider has the benefit of playing around with these spices and selecting a mix of your favourites. Some great spices for cider include:
- Star Anise
In general, it is best to use whole spices for your apple cider as using ground spices will result in extra grit that will be difficult to strain out at the end. The whole spices also infuse better and more evenly, leading to a better spiced product.
Process for Non-Alcoholic Homemade Cider
Simply toss all ingredients into a large saucepan. You will need a deep stock pot for this recipe - ideally one with a lid.
Pour water into the pot - enough to come to the top of the apples. These may float a bit, but essentially as long as the water comes to the top and covers them (if pressed down) this will be enough. The amount of water will depend a bit on the size and shape of your pot, so I have not give a firm measurement here.
Place the stock pot over a medium high heat and bring to a boil. Given the amount of water, this may take about half an hour. Stir occasionally to help the sugars dissolve and the ingredients to mix.
Once boiled, turn the temperature down to a low setting and cover with the lid. If you don't have a lid, you can also use aluminium foil over the top of the pot.
Simmer on the low setting for about 3 hours, allowing the flavours to infuse and the apples to break down.
After 3 hours, remove from the heat and strain into a bowl, removing the apples, lemon and whole spices.
This can be served warm, fresh from the stovetop or cold - allow to cool at room temperature before decanting into a pitcher or jug and storing in the refrigerator.
Spiked Cider Cocktail
Apple cider is great on its own, but if you're looking for the ultimate apple cider cocktail, I've got the perfect one for you!
To make an amaretto apple cider cocktail, you'll need:
- 4 parts Apple cider - either homemade or store bought.
- 1 part Amaretto - I'm a fan of Disaronno, but any amaretto style liqueur should work for the flavour.
- 2 parts Vodka.
Rather than making a large vat of spiked cider, I prefer mixing individual glasses. This allows you to more easily serve both alcoholic and non alcoholic cider at the same event without necessarily needing to make multiple batches.
FAQs for Homemade Apple Cider
Homemade apple cider can keep well in the refrigerator for about a week. It can be served cold or reheated to suit your taste.
Yes, homemade spiced cider can be frozen easily. Once strained, allow the liquid to cool completely before transferring to a freezer safe container. Leave a bit of a space at the top (don't fill completely full) as the liquid will expand when being frozen.
When ready to serve, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
For easy access, freeze in multiple smaller containers, so that you are able to defrost small batches rather than the whole amount.
While the whole spices are best in making spiced apple cider, you can use ground spices if these are all you have available. This may result in your finished product having a bit of spice that does not strain out and clusters at the bottom and of your pitcher. This is entirely harmless but a bit unpleasant to drink, so take care to pouring out into a serving glass.
If you like this recipe, try some spiced bakes to go along with you cider:
Spiced Apple Cider
- 12 apples, quartered
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup light brown muscovado sugar
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole star anise
- 1 whole nutmeg
- water enough to cover the apples
- Optional spiked apple cider serving suggestion: serve with Amaretto and Vodka
- Place all ingredients into a large deep sided pot. Fill the pan with water until covering all apples and place over a medium high heat.
- Stir occasionally and cook until the water begins to boil (about 30 minutes). Then cover with a lid and turn the temperature to low.
- Continue simmering for about 3 hours, occasionally stirring to help the apples break down.
- After 3 hours, strain through a fine sieve to remove the spices, fruit and seeds.
- Drink warm or refrigerate and serve cool.
- Optional Apple Cider Amaretto Cocktail: for a spiked apple cider cocktail, serve 6 parts apple cider, 1 part of amaretto and 2 parts vodka.