The first time I tried this recipe, it turned out quite awful. The cider tasted like orange and heavy spices, and had zero apple flavor. Fortunately I was able to rescue it, and since then I’ve made some necessary tweaks to this recipe.
I gleaned the original recipe from Tales of an Amazon Woman in Pink Shoes. She also commented that their cider turned out too citrusy.
Ingredients (for 6 quart slow cooker):
12-15 medium apples (Variety is best. I used all Lincoln apples from my landlord’s apple tree.)
Approx. 8 cups water
1/2 Tbsp (or LESS) whole cloves
1/2 Tbsp (or LESS) whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 orange, OPTIONAL
Core and chop the apples into eighths (I quarter them and then cut each quarter in half). It’s fine to leave the peel on and in fact I recommend it- just warsh them first, you know.
If you wish to include the orange, you can chop it and add it to the apple slices now. To be honest, I would leave it out altogether. The original recipe calls for 2 oranges. Kerstin from Amazon Woman remarked that this was too much so I added only one, and discovered that this was still too much. If you want a bit of a citrus tang then I suppose you could add HALF an orange, but next time I make cider I’m leaving it out.
Put the apples in the crock pot and add the spices (ginger is another optional spice- fresh or dried).
NOTE: Original recipe calls for an optional cup of brown sugar, but obviously that nixes the Paleo aspect. I find that sugar in apple recipes (with the exception of apple pie) is redundant and totally unnecessary.
Pour in enough water to cover the apples completely. For me this came to exactly 8 cups, but it may vary for you based on the size of your apples and how finely you chopped them.
Set the cooker on LOW and leave it for at least 12 hours. (I don’t know how it might turn out if you put it on high for less time)
So here’s the story- at first I followed the original recipe (not the tweaked one I offer above) to the letter with the exception of leaving out the sugar, optional fresh ginger (didn’t have any) and using only one orange. I let it sit in the crock pot overnight on low, then I began the process of straining. I don’t have any cheesecloth, so I first scooped out all the apple matter and spices with a slotted spoon and placed them in a bowl. Then I crushed this apple mess with the back of the spoon to release more of the juices, and then glopped the resulting mush into a small strainer back over the crockpot to release more of the juices.
I then used a splatter-shield as a fine strainer (works remarkably well!). I positioned it over a pitcher and poured the cider through it one spoonful at a time, stopping occasionally to wash off the strained apple mush. The result was very similar to what you see in the above picture- dark and beautiful in color but free of pulp or chunks.
So far, so good!
The only problem was that it tasted …. not… good. All I could taste was VERY strong spices and a hint of orange. I was disappointed, and deleted all the pretty apples-and-spices-in-crockpot process pictures I had taken.
Later, I put the failure cider back in the crockpot with another batch of about 10 small apples, no orange, no added water, no added spices. Just apples. I let it sit on low for another 8 hours or so, and FINALLY (after another long straining session) was rewarded with something that actually tasted like sweet, spiced apple cider.
The verdict was that the orange was unnecessary and added a weird flavor, and the spices were WAY too plentiful. I would go so far as to say maybe include only a TEASPOON of each for starters, and if you find it needs more then you can do some tweaking then. Better to add in your strong flavors slowly than to find you have a whole batch of useless liquid. (Unless you’re willing to put in the time and effort to salvage said liquid.)
Ultimately the result was a delicious fall drink, and if you leave out any added sugar than it’s perfectly paleo-friendly, and would be delicious with a couple of Paleo Apple Cinnamon Cookies!