Wherever you live, I want you to get your hands on as many apples as you can…
The uglier the better. 😉
And it's not to make applesauce or apple cinnamon muffins or cider donuts. (Though, please feel free to make all of those before fall is over!) It's because you NEED spontaneously fermented sparkling apple cider in your life. Stat!
When those dark, cold winter days blow in… And when those yucky, wet spring days seem to drag on forever… You'll be so thankful that you bottled up the best of the fall harvest — apples!
Spontaneously fermented sparkling apple cider can hardly be called a recipe. After all, it's just 1 ingredient — freshly pressed apple cider!
The skin of unwashed, organic apples is teeming with microscopic organisms — tiny yeasts and bacteria that feed off the natural sugars in apple cider and turn it into a bubbly, sparkling, sweet-and-tart glass of fall flavor! No need to add sugar or spices!
Apple Cider Or Apple Juice… Which Is It?
Is there a difference between apple cider and apple juice? You bet there is!
Real apple cider is made from freshly pressed (or juiced) apples and is not filtered. So, when you're fermenting your cider, you should see bits of brown sediment settling at the bottom of your jars or bottles.
On the other hand, apple juice starts as cider. Then it's filtered and concentrated. Water is added back to it, and then it is pasteurized to be shelf-stable.
You CANNOT use pasteurized, bottled apple “cider” or juice from the grocery store for this process. It will not work. Furthermore, if you purchase any sort of shelf-stable product labeled “apple cider”, especially if sweeteners, spices, or flavors have been added, it is not real cider at all!
Traditional cider is raw and unfiltered. Once fermented to suit your tastes, it must be stored in the refrigerator or a very cold root cellar. To save refrigerator space, I have a friend who water bath cans her cider. Of course, it's no longer raw or fermented after this, but it does remain unfiltered and is shelf-stable cider.
Now that we've got that cleared up… let's ferment some cider!
Spontaneously Fermented Sparkling Apple Cider
Here's what you need:
- organic apples — locally grown, if possible
- a juicer (We use a neighbor's cider crusher/press, but you can totally do this without one!)
- swing-top bottles and/or quart-size Mason jars
First, juice (or press) the apples — skin, stems, peels, and all! If you're using a cider press, you don't even have to worry about stray leaves or sticks because they'll be filtered out. As long as you're sure your apples are organic and have never been sprayed with anything, you don't even need to wash them first!
If you're using a juicer, remove leaves and sticks before juicing, but don't worry about the skins, stems, or peels. Whether using a cider press or juicer, there won't be any leaves, seeds, or stems in the finished cider..
Transfer the fresh-pressed cider to swing-top bottles or quart-size jars and close. Leave on your countertop for 2 to 4 days. (You can go longer, but the cider will lose most of its sweetness and become slightly alcoholic the longer it ferments.)
As the yeasts and bacteria get to work eating the apple's sugar, they'll begin to release carbon dioxide, especially by the end of the second day. Make sure to check and burp your jars at least once a day! Once the apple cider tastes like you want and has the fizz (sparkle!) you like, transfer it to the refrigerator.
By doing large batches of spontaneously fermented sparkling apple cider, you can enjoy this quintessential fall ferment throughout winter and spring!
Have you ever had homemade, sparkling apple cider?
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