How to Use and Preserve Fresh Apple Juice

With six apple trees in my woodland garden and a very good year of fruit this year, much of my time over the last few weeks has been spent picking and preserving the apple crop. Four trees have been harvested and two, with later apples, are a pending task.

We use and preserve our apples in a variety of ways. But a large percentage of the apples we grow we use to make apple juice (cider in North America).

Use of fresh apple juice

We love our fresh apple juice. After macerating the apples and squeezing them through a hand crank press, we usually drink a lot of juice fairly quickly. We often drink it on its own or mix it with other homemade drinks like black currant liqueur. However, this fresh and unprocessed (unpasteurized) apple juice does not last long in the refrigerator. So we need to find ways to store this juice for later use.

Hot water bath canned apple juice

The first method we use to keep fresh apple juice fresher longer is hot water canning. I pour the apple juice into one-pint mason jars, leaving a half inch of headroom, then process them in a double boiler canner for 10 minutes. Easy. Only problem is I don’t have enough mason jars to store all of our apple juice this way.

I canned 16 pints of apple juice from two presses in our apple press. I know these jars, all sealed properly, should now last at least a year, maybe even 18 months in our pantry.

Canning with apple juice

Another thing I do is use some of the apple juice to preserve other fruits in the double boiler dispenser. I have a few jars of blackberries and some apple slices that I canned in apple juice instead of simple syrup.

This is a healthier option that allows me to create fruit that isn’t too sweet and retains its natural fruit flavor for the winter months. (If you do this, leave a half inch of headspace and process for 20 minutes.)

Freeze apple juice

While I can do a lot of apple juice and other things in juice, I have plenty more that I want to save for later use. So, in addition to canning, I also freeze apple juice in recycled large four-pin milk containers.

I leave some space at the top of these containers since liquid expands as it freezes. We’ll certainly use up ours before it gets that far, but it should keep up well in the freezer for up to a year or so. When we want the next batch, I thaw them in the fridge and use them within a few days.

Making Cider (alcoholic)

In addition to the fresh juice, we also have apple varieties that are suitable for making an alcoholic cider. Once we’ve blended them and squeezed the juice, my husband takes over and oversees the fermentation process to turn that fresh juice into cider.

After primary fermentation in a bucket with an air lock, the cider is decanted into demijohns and later bottled.

I’m not a big fan of alcoholic cider, I have to admit. But my husband will be very happy about it next summer.

make apple cider vinegar

If you take alcoholic apple cider and put it through a second stage of fermentation, you get apple cider vinegar (ACV). This is very useful in a variety of ways around our home, making it another great way to use up some of our harvest.

While you can make apple cider vinegar (and we do), real apple cider vinegar is also good to have. And by taking a scientific approach, you can be more confident about the acidity of the end product. I use this vinegar in canning projects as well as to clean my house and even my hair. There are so many ways that having your own ACV can really come in handy.

With so many apples, we have a lot of juice and many other apple products. But with the above strategies we ensure that as little as possible is wasted and we make the most of the abundance we can grow in our garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *