It’s been a good year for our apple trees. They grow near the house, in the fields and woods. More apples than the deer can eat. Different kinds – red, yellow, crab and not. Why couldn’t I make apple juice, I wondered. Cook and strain, just like I did for rhubarb juice. I googled and, yep, you can.
Cut up apples
I halved the small apples and quartered large ones. Smaller pieces cook faster and it also lets you better see parts that are bad or wormy. I didn’t peel them or cut the cores out.
Put cut apples in a large pot and add water. After some trial and error, I found about a third as much water as apples gave the right strength of juice. So for 16 cups of cut-up apples, add 5-6 cups water.
Cook until soft
Cook until apples are soft, about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the quantity and the apples.
Line a sieve or colander (plastic, enamel or stainless steel) with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth, dampen it. Then sit it in a bowl or pot that fits so that there is clearance for the liquid to drain. Have two more containers nearby – you’ll likely need them in the next step.
Strain apple juice
Carefully pour the liquid and apples into the strainer. Your bowl will soon fill because the juice will drain through quickly. Move the colander over to your spare bowl with one hand and, with the other hand, pour the juice into another bowl or jug.
Keep doing that until all the apples and liquid are in the colander. Leave that to drain. Take another colander or sieve, put cheesecloth in it and strain the juice several more times from one bowl to the other. You’ll see a bit of apple pulp in the bottom. Rinse the cheesecloth, and repeat.
If your apples are sweet enough to eat, I doubt you’ll need to add sugar. Taste the juice while it’s still hot to see. Be careful, add only a bit at a time.
You can freeze it in plastic bottles or can it in sealing jars. You can likely make it as a concentrate by using less water.
Is it worth it?
If you have the apples anyway, it’s worth doing. But if I had to buy them, I don’t think I would. The juice is a bit cloudy. Maybe a finer mesh sieve or a jelly bag. Maybe a juicer. But that’s just aesthetics. The juice tastes good.