Apple Juice: How to make and bottle your own homemade Apple juice (directions, recipe, with photos and free)
This month's notes: January 2017: Apples are still available, but already picked. In some areas, late season crops, are still available (if there hasn't been a frost) - like persimmons, pears, winter squash, kiwis, even figs and raspberries. See your state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. But now it is time to tag your Christmas tree at a local Christmas tree farm (and enjoy a bonfire, smore, hot chocolate and free hayrides, and often Santa visits! And next Spring, you'll want to take your children to a free Easter egg hunt - see our companion website to find a local Easter Egg hunt!
And we have home canning, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Have fun, eat healthier and better tasting, and save money by picking your own locally grown fruit and vegetables, and then using our easy directions
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How to Make Homemade Apple JuiceMaking and canning your own apple juice is easy. In fact, if you are making applesauce, you will probably have extra juice from cooking the apples! Here's how to make your own home canned apple juice (some call it apple cider, but it isn't fermented, so I don't think that really applies), complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The apple juice will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store, and by selecting the right apples, it will be so naturally-sweet that you won't need to add any sugar at all.
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention.
Directions for Making Apple Juice
- Apples (see step 1)
- the largest pot you have
- Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
- Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)t)
- Jar funnel ($2 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)t)
- At least 1 large pot (at least 8-quart size or larger)
- Large spoons and ladles
- Ball jars (Publix, Kroger, other grocery stores and some "big box" stores carry them - about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)
- a simple metal or plastic sieve.
- Filters - if you want filtered juice
- jelly bag
- coffee filters
- 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars of peach, nectarine, plum, pluot or apricot juice after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates) You CAN use a large pot instead, but the canners are deeper, and have a rack top make lifting the jars out easier. If you plan on canning every year, they're worth the investment.
Recipe and Directions
Step 1 - Selecting the apples
The most important step! You need apples that are sweet - that will eliminate the need to add any sugar. Most apple juice doesn't have as much natural sweetness or flavor because they use underripe or off-spec apples. You can choose the best apples you can get and make far better apple juice. Don't get me wrong, it is fine to use "seconds", as long as you cut out the bruised spots!
If you can, choose apples that are naturally sweet, like Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Rome and always use a mixture - never just one type. This year I used 4 bushels of red delicious and one each of Fuji, Yellow Delicious, Gala and Rome. This meant it was so sweet I did not need to add any sugar at all. And the flavor is great! The Fuji's and Gala's give it an aromatic flavor! Honeycrisp and Pink Lady are also excellent, sweet, flavorful apples.
Step 2 - How many apples and where to get them
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. But for large quantities, you'll find that real* farmer's markets, like the Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices. In 2012 , they were available from late September at $14 to $30 per bushel. 2013 prices, thanks to abundant rainfall, are likely to be good at the real farmer's markets, like the Atlanta-Forest park Georgia State Farmer's Market and orchards in the southeast of the U.S.
You'll get about 12 to 20 quarts of apple juice per bushel of apples. Count on 15 or 16 quarts per bushel.
* - not the cutesy, fake farmer's markets that are just warehouse grocery stores that call themselves farmer's markets.
Step 3 - Wash the jars and lids
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used. Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot apple juice.
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
Step 4 -Wash and chop the apples!
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the apples in plain cold water.
Chopping them is much faster if you use one of those apple corer/segmenters - you just push it down on an apple and it cuts it into segments. Note: You do not peel the apples! You will put the entire apple into the pot to cook.
Step 5 - Cook the Apples
Pretty simple put about 4 inches of water (I used filtered tap water) on the bottom of a huge, thick-bottomed pot. Put the lid on, and the heat on high. When it gets really going, turn it to medium high until the apples are soft through and through.
Hardware stores sell a fruit steamer. I haven't used one yet, but I hear they work well.
NOTE: If you have a electric juicer, you can simply juice the chopped apples, then skip to step 7 to heat the juice to boiling.
Step 6 - Sieve the cooked apples
Now you want to separate the liquid from the pulp, skins, seeds, stems, etc. There are quite a variety of ways to filter the apples.
- I like a natural apple juice, with the natural cloudiness of the fruit particles in it, so I just plop the cooked apples into a large metal or plastic sieve or colander.
- You can also refrigerate the juice for 24 to 48 hours and then Decant it (without mixing, carefully pour off clear liquid and discard sediment).
- A better way if you want filtered apple juice is just to line your sieve or colander with several layers of cheese cloth and let the juice drip through. It could take an hour..
- If you want really clear apple juice (but most people prefer "natural" style with some solids) you can strain the juice through a paper coffee filter place inside a sieve or colander.
- If you want more filtered apple juice, use a jelly bag. Just pour hot prepared fruit pulp into a jelly bag and let it drip. . Do not squeeze the bag.! In my experience this method takes forever.
Note: One of the easiest ways to extract juice is by using a steam juicer available at many hardware and variety stores. If you plan on making a lot of juice or doing this every year, it may be worth buying one. This unique piece of equipment allows you to conveniently extract juice by steaming the fruit which is held in a retaining basket. The juice drops into a reservoir which has a tube outlet for removal. Follow manufacturer's instructions for using steam juicer. See the steam juicers at the right side of this page. All of them get very positive reviews (4 out of 5 stars) from owners on Amazon)
If your goal is to make apple juice, you will still have a lot of apple pulp left, so I'd recommend you make apple sauce from it (see this page)
Step 7 - Heat the apple juice
Put the apple juice into a large pot. If you want, add cinnamon to taste. You should not need to add any sugar.
The apple juice does not need any further cooking; just get it heated to a low simmering boil and keep it hot until you get enough made to fill the jars you will put into the canner (Canners hold seven jars at once, whether they are quart or pint size)
Step 8 - Fill the jars and process them in the water bath
Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe any spilled apple juice of
the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Put them in
the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 or 2 inches of water and
boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint or quart
jars for 5 minutes and half gallon jars for 10 min. This assumes
you kept the juice hot until you filled the jars. If you are at an
altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart below Recommended process time for
Apple Juice in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack
0 - 1,000 ft
1,001 - 6,000 ft
Above 6,000 ft
Pints or Quarts
Recommended process time for Apple Juice in a boiling-water canner.
Step 9 - Remove and cool the jars - Done
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
FAQs and Tips
- Q. Using a Juicer? "I was reading the apple juice
canning instructions and was wondering if I can just juice the
apples with my electric juicer, then bring the juice to a boil,
and can in a boiling water bath. Seems to me this would be easier
even if the liquid separates after canning in the jars.
A. Sure! That's perfectly fine!
Comments and feedback
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