Want to banish the chilly morning blues?

Simmer up some homemade apple cider and watch your day get better.

This recipe couldn't be any simpler. Combing through the various videos and blog postings online, I boiled it down to the basic common denominators: apples, water, sugar, and a crock pot. Let's get cooking!

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 12 apples, washed and quartered
  • 1 orange, washed and sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick or a dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

apples, fruit

Method

Add 10 cups of water to your crock pot and set it on HIGH. Remove the seeds and stems from your quartered apples, and add them to the water with the orange slices and cinnamon stick. Take the requisite Instagram shot, cover, and simmer for at least 3 hours until the apples have clearly softened up.

At this point, I removed the orange and cinnamon stick so they wouldn't be too overpowering, but take a taste and see what you think. Using a potato masher or a large spoon, press your apples and stir well. If they're not soft enough to mash, let them cook a bit longer until they are. After you have what looks like a chunky apple soup, cover and simmer again for another 2 hours. 

Using a slotted spoon, fish out all of the apple debris, add the brown sugar, and simmer for one last hour. Strain the finished product through cheesecloth or a colander lined with paper towels. Serve as is, mulled with additional spices and booze, or chilled.

Store the cider in the refrigerator, and try to use it up within a week. You can also freeze it to enjoy later in the season.

Notes

  • Using a variety of apples is perfectly fine—you can even use bruised or older fruit that may be past its prime. Just cut off the bad spots and you're good to go. I cut up some Granny Smith apples along with a few Pink Lady apples and an Empire. Be sure to mix plenty of sweet apples if you're using tart cooking apples.
  • The orange slices appear in most online recipes, and they definitely lend a complexity to the cider. If you're planning on drinking it cold, I would leave out the oranges for a crisper apple flavor.
  • While cinnamon sticks are pretty, they are a major commitment to a dominant flavor profile. You may be better off adding a dash of cinnamon with the sugar if you're on the fence about this ingredient.
  • You could make this in an Instant Pot or even on the stove. Just cook the apples until soft, mash them, simmer a bit longer, add your sugar and seasonings, then strain. Have fun with it!

While this isn't as good as freshly-pressed apple cider, this slow-cooked version will do in a pinch. It also makes your house smell amazing while it's simmering. This is the perfect time to pick up some cheap fruit at the farmers' market (ask for a box of their "seconds") or your local grocery store, so give it a try!

Do you have a favorite recipe for spiked apple cider? Did we miss any of your family's favorite delicious additions to a traditional fall cider? Let us know in the comments!