Tis The Season
Look, it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, and we’re both too tired to deal with SQL Server. Rather than get all worked up and worn out by talking about databases, today we’re going to talk about how to make cider from scratch.
It’s a noble pursuit, making cider, and it makes things smell good.
It’s also great with some rum in it, which is an easy way to keep warm in these long, cold, endless winter months (provided you’re in the correct hemisphere).
The first thing you’re gonna need is a large pot. It doesn’t matter much what kind it is, but it has to be big enough to hold 12 apples and two oranges, and just about a cup of water per apple. I use a 7.25 quart Dutch Oven, which is just big enough to hold everything.
The next thing you’re gonna need is 12 apples. It doesn’t matter much what kind, and you can even use a whole bunch of different kinds all in together. If you’re feeling crazy, you can sub in 4-6 pears.
Don’t just throw them in the pot though! You gotta chop the apples to get rid of the cores. They don’t need to be diced down really fine, because we’re gonna mash them up once they’re soft enough. If you’re putting pears in, cut off the stems and get rid of the seeds if you can.
So far, so good. Our apples (or pears!) are chopped, our oranges are peeled and quartered, and we’ve got them in a pot with about 14 cups of water.
Now to add the stuff that makes the magic happen:
- Cinnamon Sticks: 6 of them
- Nutmeg: 1 tablespoon
- Whole Cloves: 1 tablespoon
- Whole All Spice: 1 tablespoon
- Vanilla Bean: 1 whole bean, sliced
A lot of recipes will have you add a sweetener. Don’t do it. It’s gross, and anyone who tells you to do it is gross.
Bring all that to a boil, and let it cook uncovered for an hour or so, until the apples (or pears!) are soft enough to mush. I do everything with a slotted spoon, since my pot is pretty deep, and the masher I have is too short for the job.
Once you’ve got the fruits mashed up pretty well, turn the heat down to a little less than half of whatever full blast is on your burner. Leave it uncovered, and let it reduce until the pot is about half full. You should be tasting as it reduces. If you stop too soon, it’ll be watery. You don’t want that, and you also don’t want cider gravy.
When things are reduced, kill the heat and let it cool for an hour. If you have a thermometer, wait until things are at 100F or below. You’re gonna need a strainer to pull out the pulp. This part is annoying, because you do need to let the fluid drain out from the pulp a bit. I’ll usually use a spoon to move the pulp around so it drains faster.
After all the pulp is out, you’ll wanna pour what’s left through the strainer again to get out any sediment, and errant chunks.
Mmm. Errant chunks.
But hey, now you’ve got cider! I store mine in mason jars, because uh… we had them around. I don’t think they have any special powers.
If you’re into alcoholic beverages, adding in rum is a good choice. I like El Dorado 15 for the job, but you’re free to pick your own poison. Garnish with an orange, or just leave it off because garnishes just get in the way of drinking, ha ha ha.
If you’re bulking, you can also stir in a teaspoon of butter, just probably grab the unsalted stuff, here.
Another good option is Balvenie Caribbean Cask, which is a scotch with some rum-ish properties, in case you couldn’t tell by the name.
You can also drink it just fine on its own, but I started making cider specifically to make cocktails, so there we are.
Thanks for reading!
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