Got Apple Peels? Make a Simple Apple Peel Cider!

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Apple Peel CiderIt’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.

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.

Apple Peel Cider
Making Apple Peel Cider

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!)

8. Enjoy your free, one-of-a-kind autumn drinks!Apple Peel Cider
What kinds of apple projects do you have planned this fall? Do you use the peels?

Apple Peel Cider





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76 Responses to Got Apple Peels? Make a Simple Apple Peel Cider!

  1. Joanna September 24, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I have made apple cider vinegar for the chickens from my apple peelings

    • Ariana Mullins September 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Yes, that’s a great one! I really considered doing that… But I had so many and didn’t want to wait that long for it to develop. Still something I’d really like to try one of these days!

    • Ariana Mullins September 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Oh, could you tell me more about giving your chickens ACV, Joanna? Do you do it regularly, or just to treat problems? Do you add it to their water?

    • weaving one October 10, 2013 at 2:58 am #

      I’m not Joanna, but I add it to the water. I make my own ACV or kombucha vinegar, either works to cure and prevent coccidiosis. After that last bunch of chicks I brought home I’m never raising chicks again without it!

  2. Liene September 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    I just finished a big batch of applesauce, and the peels went into a pot to make apple jelly. I’ve done apple butter too, it’s just a matter of what we’re craving. This cider sounds yummy, but I think I’m done with applesauce this fall – maybe next.

    • Ariana Mullins September 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

      We love apple butter. I’ve never made apple jelly before! I think our peels were too tart to make a sweeter concoction with– I had to add quite a bit of honey to our apple sauce. I guess that’s how it goes with many of the apple trees in parks!

  3. Adelheid Peterson September 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    I really would like to try this, but do not have the fermentation equipment that you suggest. Would there be other options to try? The only thing I have ever fermented is kombucha, and I just use mason jars for that, with coffee filter over the top until they are finished, Then it gets poured into the swing-top bottles for finishing and storage.

    • Ariana Mullins September 25, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      The first part doesn’t need to be air-tight, so a large mason jar would work just fine for that… I really prefer to use something with an airlock for the next part. Since you’ll be creating a lot of CO2 and don’t want to introduce any other bacteria to the ferment. Do you have a really big canning jar with a lid that clips on (like Fido or Le Parfait?) Those would allow wome gas to escape, similar to the swing-top bottles. Do you have some large swing-top bottles? Those could work too. You coul possibly use a large mason jar, if you remember to faithfully “burp” it– you just don’t want too much pressure to build. You could experiment with the open method you use for kombucha, but I can’t really say much about that, since I haven’t tried it that way before. I guess you don’t have much to lose, if you have a pile of peels and a little sugar laying around!

    • Ariana Mullins September 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

      Sorry for the typos!

    • Adelheid Peterson September 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      Thanks for the response. I’m going to try it the way I do kombucha for the first step and then see what I can come up with for the second. And you’re right, nothing to lose since they would normally go into the compost. We’ll see how it turns out 🙂

    • My Love Wedding Ring October 5, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      This is slightly random (and maybe a bit too late in the day) but using a party balloon over the top of the jar for the second stage as it just expands up as the C02 is produced, you can then let the gas out if it is getting too bit so that it doesn’t just burst.

    • Adelheid Peterson October 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

      That is a great idea… thanks for sharing 🙂 My first batch molded, but am onto the second step with my next batch and am really excited since it seems to be on the right track this time.

    • Kathy Hutton October 23, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      I just bought an airlock from the wine/brew shop and it only cost $1.95. I made a hole in the top of and old ice cream container. Use what you have, as long as it’s not metal.

  4. Anonymous September 28, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    The horses get the apple peelings (and most of the apples) but this sounds interesting. Have you ever got vinegar from the wild yeast?

    • Ariana Mullins September 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      No, I haven’t! But I have thought about making ACV…

  5. Anonymous September 29, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    Do the apple peels have to be unwashed? I have some apples from a friend’s tree, and some others from the Farmer’s Market, but usually I wash them if I am going to use the peels. If I wash them, will they still turn into cider or will the natural yeast be washed off?

    • Ariana Mullins September 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

      I wouldn’t scrub them, but a rinse should be just fine– to get the dirt off. I gave ours a good rinse, AND poured boiling water over them, and the yeast did just fine!

  6. Anonymous October 1, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    Lived on an organic farm that made apple juice and cider, and sauce. They had got apples from all over the area. To process the apples and get more juice they used a clean wood chipper to mush the apples and them press the juice out. From there they would decide how much of the solid remains to use to make cider and ferment away. The cider was great come mid winter. Just thought the chipper idea was the best for processing huge quantities of apples, and getting the max juice, they said it tripled the amount of juice extracted.

  7. hopboy October 1, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    You can easily make an airlock to fit any size jug by stretching a rubber balloon over the jug and the pierce a pin hole or two or three, as needed, into it. Alternately, you could take and cover a larger mouth container with clean cling wrap, hold it tight to the container with a rubber band and pierce a pin hole or two or three, as needed into it. Fermentation is not “Rocket Surgery” : ^ ) In England they often ferment beer without any use of airlocks at all

    • My Love Wedding Ring October 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      Sorry hopboy – I hadn’t read down as far as your comment when i posted the balloon thing too – I’ve not tried piercing it before though, I’ve just let the gas out if it was getting precariously big – will try piercing it next time though!! Thank you for that idea 🙂

  8. Anonymous October 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    This sounds delicious! I started my ACV last week, and when I went to move it to a mason jar to ferment yesterday, it smelled just like hard cider! I wanted to drink it so bad, but alas, patience won and I will have some great home-brewed ACV in just over a month 🙂

  9. Lauren S October 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Can you use something other than sugar?

    • Ariana Mullins October 4, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      Hi Lauren,
      Honey would work very well here!

      • klp September 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

        Though technically, it would be cyser, still sounds good. I’ll try it as I have a good harvest of apples this year.

  10. My Love Wedding Ring October 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    This sounds sooooo delicious, am definitely off to give this a try!!

  11. Matthew @ Lasik for Your Surgeon October 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Apples! Apples! Apples! What would I do without apples…

  12. Joyanne Ludington October 9, 2013 at 5:46 am #

    Actually drinking an apricot cider right now. I don’t drink alcohol, and after much trial and error, (hopefully had a helpful effect on my kitchen sink pipes) have found that if I just do one diluted ferment with no added sugar for at least 1 week, and then refrigerate before opening, and add 1 T sugar when opening the chilled bottle; there is no concern with appreciable alcohol content as it is fermented and carbonated. It runs out of sugar long before it can make alcohol. Going to try this recipe with just the single one week ferment! We got 5 huge granny smith’s off our 1 yr old tree this year! Can’t wait!

    • Maid Mirawyn January 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      Thanks for that, Joyanne; I don’t drink alcohol either. I may have to try it your way when I do apples again. I can only use so much apple cider vinegar, you know?

  13. Ashlee Mayer October 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    What a great idea! Pinned it!! ~ Ashlee @

  14. meg'n October 27, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    I’ve been making naked apple butter with my peels. Yum!

  15. meg'n October 27, 2013 at 3:49 am #

    I’ve been making naked apple butter with my peels. Yum!

  16. Mariette November 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Thanks for this. Too late for me this year as I used the peels to grind and throw into the raw food they eat. Next year they will have to give up some. Can’t wait. Have some apples that are aging, I bet they would do well for this project.

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  18. kmthornton December 21, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    I tried this with some of the apples we got this fall. I let it go quite a bit longer to get a drier cider and bottled it up tonight. It’s so good! Thank you so much for sharing this idea, I never would have thought to use the peels. I had dark red apples and got pretty pink cider out of it. 🙂

    • ariana September 2, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      So glad to hear it!

  19. Melissa Smith January 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    I threw my peels & cores in the freezer last fall. I wonder if the yeast is killed when frozen.

    • ariana September 2, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Melissa, I would use those, and add a fresh, unwashed, organic apple to the mix after pouring in the boiling water.

      • Edna August 26, 2019 at 7:45 pm #

        I have a lot of apples in the freezer from last year. They are cut and cored with peel on. How would I use them to make cider ? Do I thaw them first ? And I don’t have a press or juicer. I used to make apple juice by pouring boiling water over apples and letting them sit for a while. Could I just make juice and use that to make cider?

  20. Kristine February 9, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    Can a Pickl-It jar be used in lieu of the demijohn + airlock?


  21. CAPERNIUS March 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    I envy you…living abroad & being an expat…
    I could go more into detail, but there is a place & time for everything,
    and this is neither.

    TY for sharing this recipe, sounds delicious!!

  22. Randy March 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Add a little yeast (ale or champaigne) to the process when adding the sugar and you get wine. Course, it can be pop the top off if you don’t use a swing type top…

  23. Mickey Merriman June 16, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    I don’t suggest using the cores unless you make sure you get all the of the seeds out first. I know many probably never have, and some will guffaw at me, but apple seeds contain trace amounts of arsenic. I wouldn’t want to chance cutting open some mutated seed and then brew it and risk offing myself for some cider. I just use the peels to start the fermentation and add the sliced apple bodies after the first day.

    • Pirate June 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      Agree Mickey…the seeds also have anti-nutrients that you don’t want to injest

    • Patch October 8, 2014 at 3:38 am #

      It’s not arsenic, it’s cyanide, and it isn’t released unless the seed is cut, ground, chewed, or otherwise broken up. And if you did chew up the seeds, it takes an entire cup of seeds to get to dangerous levels.

    • ariana October 8, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      I have always swallowed my apple seeds– it’s super hard to poison yourself or anyone else this way. I even brew my plum wines with the pits, because you don’t get much exposure unless you are crushing and eating them (and some people even do this without giving it a second thought.)

  24. Barry September 10, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    I got 8 litre’s of apple peels with 8 litre’s of water, it’s been fermenting for four days, I have a carboy but it’s huge can I increase the amount of water, when I go to the next step

    • ariana October 8, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Barry, sorry for the late reply. Adding water will of course dilute the cider. So I would suggest tasting what you have, and deciding whether you would like the flavor if it was diluted. If you do add more water, you can also add more sugar to increase the flavor and alcohol levels.

  25. jennifer October 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    i am on step 5 and its been 6 days – theres “stuff” growing on the surface. admittedly i am using old fashioned wire bail ball jars as it was all i had. i did not use a rubber seal – just glass lid and closed figuring it wasnt airtight.
    so – suggestions? is all lost or can i skim it?
    any advise will be helpful.

    • ariana October 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Jennifer, does it look like mold? Is it white or grey? Or is it blue/ green? If it’s just a little, I would skim it off. If it’s some scum, or clusters of bubbles, all of that is totally normal. If you thin it’s a little mold, skim it off, keep covered, and keep going. Hopefully the good bacteria will take over. I might throw in a fresh curl of unwashed, organic apple peel, for good measure.

      • jennifer October 29, 2014 at 3:21 am #

        thanks for the info and advice to keep going!!
        it seems to be a combination of things – mostly white, but one light greenish and one big crawly thing (growing on top and up the side of the jar) sort of like a dust bunny? i know that sounds really gross, but ive seen worse (like on my pickles) and skimmed it off….so i guess i will go ahead and skim and give it a whirl. there are little bubbles around the top next to the glass.
        will keep you posted 🙂 i am very excited!

  26. Kate Walker July 19, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    I made this nine months ago – before I got around to filtering it I found out I was pregnant/ had severe morning sickness so a friend took all my ferments. Just got them back and I’m trying to figure out if this is still usable. There was no mold, the liquid is clear and fizzy and it smells like cider – thoughts?

    • ariana October 21, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Sorry I am so late on this, but it sounds perfect to me! 🙂

  27. Ashley Kumar October 20, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

    Hi Ariana. I love your blog and reading about all your adventures. I just went apple picking and have about 160 pounds of apples to both dehydrate and make applesauce with. I am really excited to try out this recipe this year. I always hate to throw away all those peels every year! I had a question, though, once I bottle the cider will it continue to ferment? What is the optimum drinking period for this? Because I have so many apples, I’d like to turn all the peels into cider but I’m concerned about drinking it all in time but more than that, I’d like to have it for a longer period of time to enjoy months from now-I just don’t know if that’s possible. Any advice?

    • ariana October 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

      Hi Ashley,

      This should keep very well. The tricky part is finding the balance between sweetness you like and fermenting it for a long time. Since this is such a simple process, there is also going to be a lot of variation in the results. You can stop fermentation where you want it by adding campden tablets, or you can just bottle it where you are pleased with the taste and it’s just a little sweeter than you like. But there is a chance it could continue to ferment in the bottle and continue to metabolize sugars, becoming stronger and drier.

      Check out the end part of this post on some varieties of ways to modify:

      I hope this helps, and have fun with all of your apple projects!

      • Ashley Kumar October 23, 2015 at 1:08 am #

        Thank you so much! I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂

  28. Mona Lisa November 14, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    Thanks! We made some of this too. It was delish! Wished we had made much more.

  29. Dale Black August 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    I got a little tired of making applesauce (don’t get me wrong, it’s great!). And last year I made some Apple Pie Jam and Caramel Apple Jam. This year I am making Apple Pie Filling in quart sealers. I find this Apple Cider recipe really intriguing and I want to try it, but I don’t have demijohns, carboys, airlocks or flip-top bottles. I have five gallon pails without lids and plastic pop bottles! Anybody have any suggestions?? I have ,probably 3 bushels of apples.

  30. reneekohley August 21, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    We have made this and it is so good! Thank you for the great tutorial!

  31. Billy October 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

    This sounds delicious! I’ve wanted to make my own cider at home for ages but just never really had the tools or the guide to do it. Thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to try this at home. Would it be a bad thing to add a little bit of cinnamon to give this an apple crisp / apple pie sort of flavor?

    • Ariana Mullins October 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

      Hi Billy,
      The cinnamon is an interesting idea! I would split the batch, then add a couple cinnamon sticks to one of them when you put in the boiling water. Definitely report back on how it was!

  32. Vickie Sawyer Chesebro November 13, 2017 at 8:30 am #

    So, I’ve been looking for the Apple Cider at “the store” and either they didn’t get it in yet, or everyone else is buying it before I get to it. Since I purchased a new Vitamix, I decided, well, lemme just buy some apples and make my own, since it is the season. So, for clarification, if I just puree the apples and strain them, it’s still just apple juice, but if I take that and put it in a Demi, for a week, with a sweetner, that makes it Cider. What’s the difference between cold press fermented and cooked and then fermented?

    Hoping I’ll get a reply, even though this is an old post 🙂

  33. Steve August 11, 2018 at 12:31 pm #

    I’ve got what looks like mold on top of the mixture after 1 day in the demijohn. Never done this before. Is it ruined?

    • Ariana Mullins August 16, 2018 at 11:18 am #

      Hi Steve, I would keep it and see how it develops, it could just be foamy yeast. Pay attention to how it smells, if it smells yeasty or kind of like beer/ hard cider, you are fine. If it smells BAD or like dirt, it’s the wrong kind of culture growing, and I would toss and make sure everything is super sterile before trying again. I apologize for the delay, hopefully it’s not too late. 🙂

  34. Julie Abbott October 1, 2018 at 5:00 pm #

    Already making your hard cider as have a juicer – it’s going great and like you will leave in it’s second Demi for about 3 weeks. Now I’ve seen your peel cider and really loving this idea as I plan an apple sauce batch make this week to see us through winter! So happy I’ve found this blog – I’m in the UK by the way. Thanks


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