There is something pretty satisfying about making your own fruit juice, it can be a big money saver and a great healthy option for your family. By purchasing local apples in season or picking the apples yourself you can get the freshest goods at the best price. Plus you've cut out a number of middle men and kept your shopping local - yay! You have control over exactly what goes into the bottle, local organic fruit, no added sugar, nothing but homemade goodness.
You will need:
Fresh local apples (one bushel will yield 12-15 liters of finished juice)
lemon juice (about 2 Tbsp for every 20 apples)
large pot, fine mesh stainer
Choose a few different varietals of apples for a full bodied juice with a good balance of sweet and tangy, 'seconds' are OK here (which usually means the fruit is oddly sized and shaped but is still great tasting and fresh). I have tried a few different combinations and so far my favorite blend is - Courtland, Northern Spy, Ida Red and Jonah Gold. Spy and Courtland are tart cooking apples, providing a crisp apple taste, while the Paula red and Jonah gold are sweet and pleasant eating apples, lending some natural sweetness to the mix. I like to use red skinned apples because the juice just seems tastier when it is a lovely shade of pink.
Wash your apples really well and cut them into 8-10 pieces, no need to get fancy here, you will be cooking them to total mush so keep the process quick. Fill a nice big pot almost to the brim with apples (I got carried away with the one in the pic and it boiled all over the place - word to the wise, don't overfill the pot) add water or *light apple juice to about three inches below the apples. Add lemon juice, throw a lid on the pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring gently every once in a while, and cook for 20-30 minutes or until apples are completely soft. Cover tightly and let sit for a few hours or overnight. Place liquid and pulp in fine mesh strainer set over a pot or large bowl.
Now, if you want really clear pink juice to show off to all your friends, you will need to be very patient here and just let the juices drip out naturally, overnight is best. To rush the job you can press the pulp with a spoon or weigh it down with a few plates. This will push some of the apple mush through too, so your juice will be cloudier and have a more 'apple saucey' kind of flavour (this will also give you a bit better yield of juice). I'm cheap and impatient so I usually go for the second option. Take a look at the results, in each picture the jar on the left was done the slow way, and the jar on the right -the quick way. Once shaken up, they both look and taste delicious.
Once your juice is separated from the apple pulp it can be frozen or boiled up and then **sealed in jars to be enjoyed throughout the year.
*To make a light apple juice, take the pulp left after making a batch of juice, put it back in the pot, cover with water by a few inches and bring to a quick simmer. Take off the heat, cover and let sit overnight. The next day, strain it out and voila! You have a light juice to use instead of water in your next batch of apple juice or sauce.
**We did this in the spring with Rhubarb - check out that recipe with full preserving directions here.