It’s the time of year for peeling loads of apples for all sorts of wonderful autumn preparations. I love the sessions in the kitchen with bubbling pots that fill the house with those cozy smells. But I always feel a little bit guilty about sending so many apple peels to the compost pile– do you? Not any more! I now turn mine into an Apple Peel Cider.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent all morning in the kitchen making a colossal batch of apple sauce. It’s not that we’re huge apple sauce eaters, but that there are a ton of apple trees in our area dropping apples– and no one else seems to be picking them up! So we brought home a couple big bagsful, and I set to work peeling and coring them. I saved the peels, thinking there must be something I could use them for. I thought about an apple peel wine, but never found any compelling recipes or posts about making it– plus, the one I did find called for a list of things that I didn’t want to have to get. I just wanted to do something quick and simple. So, I thought I’d just do my own thing and see what would happen. I made Apple Peel Cider. And now I am happy to share that the experiment was a success, and you can try it, too!
The cool thing about cider is that you can make it without adding any yeast. The skins of the apples have the yeast culture on them already. This makes things somewhat unpredictable, though, since you don’t know exactly what it will taste like. But that’s something I really love about wild-culturing– the element of surprise.
Please understand that this is not a typical, structured, exact recipe. I want to tell you how I made my Apple Peel Cider, roughly, and then let you have your own fun experiment with your apple scraps. It’s totally interesting, and not much work– why not have a go, right?
1. Start with organic, unwaxed apples. The best ones are not from the supermarket, but ones you know the origins of somewhat– a local orchard, your farmer’s market, or a neighborhood tree. This is the perfect project for doing after you have processed a bunch of apples for something else– apple sauce, pie fillings, preserves, etc. Save your peels (cores too, if they are not too funky– but avoid the big moldy patches you have to cut out of windfall apples.) Collect all of your peels.
2. Put them in a fermentation bucket, and pour boiling water over them. I used about equal parts water to peels by volume (not weight.) I added some chunks of peeled fresh ginger, and recommend it, if you like ginger too. (I had no trouble with developing the yeast this way, but you might want to keep a handful of peels out of the boiling water, and add them once the mixture has cooled, to be 100% sure that you don’t kill all of the yeast with the hot water.)
3. Cover the apple peels and water with lid, and let everything sit for 3-4 days. This will allow the yeast to develop and begin fermenting the apples.
4. Strain the liquid from the peels, and add sugar. I used organic natural sugar, and added about a cup to one gallon of liquid. The formula for a stronger cider is more sugar + more time = higher alcohol content. I wasn’t going for a super strong drink, and the result has been really light, tart and fresh.
5. Pour the cider mixture into sterilized demijohns, put the airlock on, and let it do its thing somewhere away from the cold for two weeks. You can of course taste after one week, and see where you’re at. If the cider is already drier than you want, then you can add some sugar. Again, this is very experimental, and is a virtually free science project that will yield a fun home brew!
6. When it’s just slightly sweeter than what you want, it’s time to bottle. Be sure to use swing-top bottles, because the is a fizzy drink and will burst regular bottles if there isn’t a mechanism to release small amounts of CO2 when it builds up.
7. Open a bottle within a couple of days, and see what it’s doing. If you like where your cider’s at, then put the other bottles in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process, and drink sooner rather than later. This will continue to ferment, and you may get a more champagne-like product than you want it if you leave it for too long. The over-fermented version usually tastes awesome, but you are likely to lose most of it to the geyser-effect when you open the bottle. (Yes, I am very familiar with this part!)
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