Introduction: Apple Cider From Apples (no Cider Press)

Picture of Apple Cider From Apples (no Cider Press)
This morning, I decided I should learn how to make (non-alcoholic) apple cider. Our trees produced a lot of apples this year, and I love cider.
However, like most people, I don't have a cider press, and nor do I have a juicer. So I checked in the kitchen for stand-in equipment, and a couple of hours later I had a pitcher full of fresh, thick, delicious apple cider from homegrown apples. Here's what I did:

Food processor, high-powered blender, or something else capable of producing apples puree.
Cheesecloth, preferably lots of it (though it's possible that a sieve would also work- or maybe coffee filters?).
Pitcher/bowl/container for juice. And something else to put the dry pulp into.
Maybe a rubber band.

Apples. I read somewhere that apples are 65% juice by weight, and that seemed to match pretty well with my input/output ratio.
Variations: I haven't done this, but you could certainly add in fresh ginger or orange rind when you're pureeing the apples.

Here's the theory: you need to break the apple down into something soft enough that (since you don't have a press) you can squeeze the juice out of the pulp by hand.

My method is below. You might need to do several batches. (Sorry I don't have a step-by-step... it was very messy and I didn't know if it would work, so I didn't want to bring the camera in.)
  1. Wash your apples. If they're homegrown, be sure to cut out any questionable bits. 
  2. It may surprise you to hear that you don't actually have to core the apples (Snopes has the relevant information), but if it makes you uncomfortable, go ahead. It'll just take a lot longer. Otherwise, just cut the apples into small enough pieces that you can feed them into your food processor.
  3. If your food processor is better than mine, you may have a puree by now. If so, great! If not, scrape all of the little apple bits from the food processor into your high-powered blender and blend away. If your blender came with a piece that helps you shove reluctant food bits into the blade, you'll need it.
  4. Now that you have lovely juicy apple mush, it's time to filter the juice from the pulp. Cut a piece of cheesecloth, perhaps two feet square, and spread it over the mouth of your juice pitcher. I put a rubber band around it and pushed down in the middle, producing the effect of a cheesecloth bowl suspended in the mouth of the pitcher.
  5. Glop maybe 1/3 cup of apple stuff into the cheesecloth.
  6. If you're inhumanly patient, you might just be able to let the juice drip-filter out into the pitcher. But since that will take a ridiculously long time, carefully pick up the cheesecloth and hold the edges together, so that the whole thing dangles from your hand like a full water balloon held by the knot (this picture that I found on Google might help explain).
  7. Gently twist or squeeze from the top to the bottom of the cheesecloth so that the juice drips out into the pitcher. (If you squeeze too hard, you'll spurt pulp into the pitcher. That's okay, you can repeat this process to re-filter if you don't like pulp.)
  8. Open the cheesecloth and empty out the dry pulp- into the compost, or into a container for future use (I bet it will be good in muffins, or maybe as fruit leather).
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 with all of your apple pulp.

Drink it, it's delicious!
If you have a lot of pulp, like me, you'll want to stir before you pour.

Hot Spiced Cider
Now put your lovely apple juice in a pot on the stove. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, chunks of fresh ginger, orange rind, perhaps some peppercorns if you're feeling daring.
Bring slowly to a boil over low heat.
Scoop out all of the spices with a sieve, or just ladle around them as you help yourself to a steaming cup.

(Note: I'm not positive about the use of the term 'cider' here. Wikipedia leads me to believe that cider is defined as a fermented beverage, but a trip to the juice aisle of a grocery store argues otherwise. For a long time, I thought only hot, spiced cider was truly cider. Does anyone know the exact and proper definition?)


etm567 (author)2017-11-15

Here in the US, we call alcoholic cider hard cider, and "apple cider" generally refers to non-alcoholic. I think in the UK, they drink lots and lots and lots of hard cider, so in a country like that, maybe "cider" means hard cider. and maybe the wikipedia poster was from the UK? I'm looking forward to making some hard cider, having just gotten into home brewing, and being a celiac who is also allergic to corn and sorghum cannot find and probably cannot brew a decent beer that I can drink. So, ginger beer, hard cider and mead, here I come.

JodyH6 (author)2015-09-08

Delicious! Easy to make and you just can't beat the freshness and flavor!

calightening (author)2013-12-14

This sounds amazing! And I have everything already. A crockpot full of homemade cider and mulling spices sounds like the perfect way to ride out this snowstorm/finals weekend.

Maybe banana bread with the pomace...

Also, If you go to the juice aisle, you can often find two jugs next to each other one labeled juice the other cider, and the difference is spices.

starforest (author)calightening2015-02-23

I've seen apple juice labeled "cinder", but the ingredents are just apple juice, no spices.

SophiesFoodieFiles (author)2014-10-21

What a great cool idea! Mmmmmmm, looks freaking delicious!

Tazdevil1978 (author)2013-12-01

The definition of cider is a juice pressed from fruit (as apples) and used as a beverage, vinager, or flavoring. I looked it up in a dictionary. I guess just about any fruit can be a cider; depending on how you make it and use it to cook with. I love to cook, so this would be nice.

spark master (author)2013-10-31


ok when you cryogenically remove the water (freeze it), you concentrate the ethanol, AS WELL AS THE METHANOL.

Methanol is POISON or in smaller quantities, very TOXIC.

distiller blow off the first 7% or so of a run, as it is METHANOL (that is the header), they then continue the run and at some point stop . Some of the fusil oil is left in the mash.

Cryogenic distillation is ok , but if you wake up with real hangover and blurry or foggy vision, that IS the Meth Spirits.

It can blind you

It can kill you

I was all set to make it when I read deeper into the distillation process. Real stills are illegal in USA, and it is notr worth loosing my home over Kick Apoo Joy Juice. Just buy Knob Creek 100 proof add a splash to good apple juice. No hangover.

spark master (author)2013-10-31

Hard cider will get you drunk. All people in middle ages drank watered down wine or small beer. You don't get drunk and it killed all the nasties in the water.

valkgurl (author)2013-10-30


Cider in apple country is called--cider. From fresh or stored apples. NOT fermented.

If it is fermented it then becomes----and is called-Hard Cider.

To make a home grown version there are several ways other than this clever method---this would yield you more for your work.
You can run the apples thru a MEAT GRINDER--- make sure you catch all the pulp and juices!.

The pulp by the way is called POMACE

Then you can "improvise" using variations of the above methods---one way is to use a board suspended (resting on) a bucket or CLEAN (sterilized) trash can---plastic or food grade 5 gallon---and then use a fabric "filter"---here the local orchards use a sort of felt-- but you can use anything the juice will pass thru ---remember this IS thicker than water tho!--and fold it over the pomace like wrapping a gift box; then place a FOLLOWER which could be another board or something else that will not distort the pomace brick too much---you then WEIGHT this or clamp it and keep tightening it.

Even if you HAVE a press you will still need to do the first grinding step. If you live in apple country you might ask around of your earthy neighbors or at the local organic store or supply place to see if some one ELSE has a press---sometimes people do cider partys and get together to share the work and the rewards!

Chances are if you find that kind of goings-on someone will be turning this still cider into Hard Cider!

Another wonderful form of this is made from PEARS and is called PERRY. . You can add the pears to the apples--yummmmmmm----you can also add pear pomace to the apples or do them alone---and this can also be made into a Hard Perry---very hard to find but very good.

Cider can be frozen and enjoyed year round. An old fashioned way to concentrate this was to (as mentioned above) freeze a barrel outdoors and then scrape away or tap into the unfrozen core---the cider is drawn off and this can be repeated several times.

Another treat made from cider is CIDER JELLY---this is cider boiled down and concentrated to the jelly point and canned or stored in the fridge. There are several sources of more exact recipes for this. This is great on meats like pork or chicken; as a spread (mixed with horseradish---yummm!) or plain or you can even melt it for pancake syrup etc. I think you can also buy this from Vermont Country Store.

Make sure that you LOVE the taste of your apples before going to all this work! A variety is a good thing here---another reason to seek out other cider lovers as they probably all grow different types. If your apples are wild--make SURE they have not been sprayed! And taste them first---some apple trees are amazing and produce wonderful fruit that might look funky bit tastes amazing with complete neglect---think old orchards. And some---not so much! IF you spot an old orchard many times just asking permission to pick will get you bushels of free fruit for all purposes---pies; cider; cobblers; dried apples; sauce---endless uses!!!! Don't forget the aged Cheddar to go with!

Once you have squeezed the cider out of the pomace---the left overs are really not good for anything but the pigs chickens or other livestock. The flavor should be in the cider barrel!

SelkeyMoonbeam (author)valkgurl2013-10-30

Wow, very thorough!
I couldn't bear to throw out the pomace, so I mixed it with carrot juice and substituted it for applesauce in nutty, gingery muffins. They were delicious! (And tasted like apples and not carrots.)

valkgurl (author)SelkeyMoonbeam2013-10-30

I would think that the pomace from apples pressed this way would have more of the juice and flavor in them but---having never done it this way I don't know!

We live in Upstate NY and one of our largest cash crops are apples. So we see a lot of apple production---we go often to the local orchards (some pick your own and some not!) for cider and other products and they have made a big deal about how the apple pomace goes to cows etc as feed ---now maybe it is not productive to use otherwise as it would be hard to store and ship. But our OTHER cash crop is dairy so---- I would just beware of the seeds and stems! Neither will kill you (altho the seeds do contain some chems naturally that if eaten in a large quantity can) but they might not be the best for your intestines!

At our local County Fair we have been known to head straight for the Apple Stand in the County Bounty building for CIDER SLUSH---you haven't lived until you have had frozen slushy cider in hot August! Followed by heading for the Maple Exhibit---where we get maple cotton candy and sugar and syrup and and and---

Like they say about wine and cheese----things that grow near each other taste best together!

valkgurl (author)2013-10-30

I don't know how to make a link to other Instructables but

ROSEMARYBEETLES has an Instructable titled HOW TO MAKE CIDER that gives simple and quite genius instructions to make a simple PRESS using a CAR JACK!

Now--why didn't I think of that!!!!!

Oh right--I live surrounded by orchards and just go and buy the stuff! Along with cider slush (if you have a slushy machine treat yourself!) cider donuts and other yummy treats. I have made cider with a cider party tho.

One of the only reasons I tolerate living in the frozen Northeast!

crankyolman22 (author)2013-10-30

I was reading a thing the other day about the influence of cider in the presidential election of 1840 and it talked about how one of the candidates only drank "sweet cider" and the opposition gave away "hard cider" the difference being fermentation. Since this distinction was being made over 170 years ago I feel the distinction still holds true today. There are many who will swear it is not cider unless it is fermented but that is why there has always been the term "hard cider". What we commonly see in the store is unclarified "sweet cider" which is basically unclarified apple juice, although it certainly tastes different than apple juice. If it is clarified it is then generally referred to as "apple Juice"

HollyHarken (author)2013-10-30

Try using a paint strainer bag that you can buy at the big hardware stores. I bought some to strain the juice from my berries; it works great. I simply tie it onto a hanger and suspend the whole thing from a top cupboard handle and let it drip into my 4.5 quart Kitchen Aid bowl. No squeezing required. Maybe that will work for you as well. I learned about the bags from a honey instructable.

Great idea! I'll try that next time.

GarageGuru (author)2013-10-27

Cool! I've always wondered about the difference in juice vs cider too. Everywhere around Northern Illinois and Indiana, labels apple juice as a amber-ish tinted, transparent juice from apples. While cider, always non-alcholic unless otherwise specified, looks like muddy, opaque, river water but tastes fantastic.

slo5oh (author)GarageGuru2013-10-29

I'm no expert on the matter, but my research has lead me to believe these facts:
1 - Apple Cider is alcoholic, Apple Juice is not.
2 - At some point in the United States (Prohibition likely) the the term Cider was used for unfiltered non-alcoholic apple juice. This is still called "apple juice" in Europe.
3 - It's not hard to make apple juice into Apple Cider, a $4 airlock to allow the CO2 out, a packet of yeast (brewers yeast is recommended, though baking yeast can be used, or slice some apple skins and drop them in the juice, see below) and time is all you need. The finished product tastes like beer unless you add sugar back into it. The yeast is not always necessary as apples have their own natural "wild" yeasts (on their skin?), but the end result could taste very different each time. My first time drinking "apple cider" was from a bottle of unfiltered apple juice that had been opened, 1 glass removed, closed back up then sat in my refrigerator for about 2 weeks. When I popped the top open it was pressurized and the flavor was very "tangy". As a 12 year old I enjoyed every drop of it over the next few days.
4 - The process for making apple juice into "apple jack" is illegal in several states but it involves boiling and freezing, then scraping off the ice for several weeks to increase alcohol content.

I've made around a half dozen batches of "apple cider" recently. Only 1 tasted good to me and it was another accident batch. I'm still searching for that magic way to make the "cider" just slightly alcoholic with a "tangy" taste, but not over brewed to where it tastes like beer.

bryan3141 (author)slo5oh2013-10-30

i was just thinking, given the discussion of history, I wonder if the UNPASTEURIZED raw apple juice being called cider has anything to do with the fact that, if you let it sit a while, it starts BECOMING hard cider using the same processes that were available when first man discovered that that moldy puddle of fruit juice kinda has a kick. I know that when I let "cider" sit a while in the fridge it eventually develops into a still hard cider.

sleeping_gecko (author)2013-10-30

If you're in the US, the nomenclature depends on your location. Some states regulate what you can call cider, apple juice, etc. Nationwide, there's no consensus, and in most places you could call any juice that comes from an apple "apple juice" or "apple cider," though people might not like it.

In general, in the US, "hard cider" is apple cider that's been fermented, "cider" is the end product like what you made (not heavily filtered, usually cloudy, sometimes unpasteurized, with "pulp" in there), and "apple juice" is the pasteurized, super-filtered, transparent, amber-colored liquid.

In much of the world, "cider" refers to what people in the US call "hard cider." It's kind of strange that we don't call it that, since Americans used to drink hard cider more than water. I believe the shift (from "cider"="hard cider" to "cider"="cloudy, fresh juice") occurred after Prohibition.

HelenaTroy (author)2013-10-29

looks good, and no special equipment to buy and have lying around getting in the way the rest of the time!

I think "cider" is defined as "fermented apple jiuce", as "wine" is "fermented grape jiuce" - pressed apples are apple juice - and same with grapes, one can buy grape juice that';s non-alcoholic

chuckyd (author)2013-10-29

I saw a program on a primitive tribe that concocted a net from wood splits. The wet pulp was placed in the center of the net and the net was twisted. One end was tied to a tree branch and a weight was hung from the other end. It's not real fast, but it's faster than relying on gravity, alone. By the time it was done, the pulp was fairly dry.

So move that concept to the civilized world and just make that cheesecloth into several layers and large enough to hold the whole mess of apple pulp. Pile it all in the middle, then twist it all around, making it look like a pregnant joint. Tie one end to your cuboard and hand a brick from the other end over a bowl. Okay, not a brick, but something weighty that is also foodsafe,

mandolinible (author)2013-10-29

Thanks, useful to know. My 'press' (2 cupboard doors and g-clamps) snapped with every press. I had frozen the apples though so they were soft enough to squish by hand in nylon net (curtain), all 5 littres of amber delight! Messy but worth it.

spiritwalker6153 (author)2013-10-29

Never thought of that one before. Great idea as I really like fresh apple juice.

Snortimer (author)2013-10-29

This looks tasty! To get better filtration, you can improvise a press from a couple of wooden trivets and a cut open pillowcase or two. Layer trivet, pillowcase, pulp, pillowcase, trivet. Place a heavy weight (gallon bottle of water or something) on top to press the juice out. You may want to place the whole contraption in a baking dish to catch the juice, though, unless you just want to give your counters a drink.

SelkeyMoonbeam (author)Snortimer2013-10-29

Good thought! That was one of my next ideas if this didn't work: cobble something together out of scrap wood, ideally with a lip, and put it in the vise.

HollyMann (author)2013-10-28

YUM!!!! I want to do this...sounds so good. Have apples and a super powerful ninja blender which pulverizes...and an old juicer too...could use that. :) Thank you for this awesome idea..there's nothing better than apple cider..and fresh is the best!

SelkeyMoonbeam (author)HollyMann2013-10-28

:) If I were you I'd see if the juicer can handle it– it would save you a lot of trouble and mess!

Kiteman (author)2013-10-27

Speaking as a long-time imbiber, "real" cider is alcoholic, made of fermented apple juice.

You can add other ingredients if you want, but keep itmainly apples to call it cider.

If you aren't too fussy about removing the bits, and it ends up dry, cloudy and strong, it can be called scrumpy.

(Oh, the headaches I've had from scrumpy...)

HollyMann (author)Kiteman2013-10-28

scrumpy :)

utest_nat (author)2013-10-28

Looks tasty!

GarageGuru (author)2013-10-27

I'd guess the main difference is apple juice is derived from apple cider that has the bajesus filtered out of it.

elsep2003 (author)2013-10-27

non alcoholic cider is apple juice. so what you have made is apple juice, cider requires fermentation.

davehartles69 (author)2013-10-27

I really don't think you needed the from apples in the title

Ha, fair. I meant it as opposed to "how to make hot spiced cider from apple juice"

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