When the last few days of hot, summer weather finally give way to brisk mornings, crisp nights, and the occasional drizzle, I start to get very excited.
The beginning of Fall marks the beginning of the busy season in my family, when we all clamor to compare schedules, request days off work, and mark all of our traditional outings on the calendar.
This gets harder and harder every year as my three sisters and I acquire more spouses and children. What used to be as easy as organizing a six person outing to the pumpkin patch is now just slightly less difficult than trying to herd a bunch pissed off cats.
Assuming we all make it, alive, through Halloween, we then start the process all over again with Thanksgiving. Before the grand finale of Christmas shopping, decorating, and baking, our season starts off slowly with the onset of apple season.
We’re not big pie-bakers in my family, but one thing we do love is freshly pressed apple cider.
Sometimes we drive out to the country to pick an entire truck bed full of apples, while other years we find ourselves flush with apples given to us by family friends.
However we happen to acquire our apples, the real work begins when we drag the perpetually cobweb-covered cider press out into the driveway and start going to town on all that fruit.
The work is divided among the family in a rotating fashion, so no one person gets stuck doing the same job the entire time. Some of us load the apples into the press, others work the mechanical wheel, and we all fight over who has to be in charge of wheelbarrowing the apple pulp back and forth.
Each of these jobs is made exponentially more difficult by the swarm of bees careening in and out of the scene, attracted by the sweet, sticky apples throughout what always seems to be the very last nice day of the year. I always try to time the pressing to be as late as possible in order to avoid the bees (who make me do some really stunning dance moves as I shriek and run away), yet they always seem to be there no matter when we press the apples.
All of our hard work pays off when we each get to head home with enough mason jars filled with cider to last us until the next year.
There’s really nothing like a tall, cloudy glass of crude, fresh cider. A far cry from store-bought apple juice, it is hard to believe both are made from the same humble fruit.
My enjoyment of apple cider has increased dramatically over the past few years as I discover more and more ways to mix it with alcohol.
For this recipe, I’ve combined fresh pressed cider with white wine and caramel vodka. I used one bottle of dry wine and one of sweet wine but if you like your beverages a bit sweeter, you can use a sweet wine for both bottles. If you wanted to be REALLY bad, you could throw in some whipped cream flavored vodka. Or even some cinnamon whiskey!
It’s as easy as slicing apples, measuring some booze, and letting it all come together in the fridge. You’re definitely going to want to make two batches of this stuff. After all, pressing apples is hard work!
Here’s Your Recipe!
- 2 firm, ripe apples, cored and sliced
- 1 (750 ML) bottle dry white wine (such as Chardonnay)
- 1 (750 ML) bottle sweet white wine (such as Riesling)
- 2 cups unfiltered apple cider
- 6 ounces caramel flavored vodka
- Place the sliced apples in the bottom of a large pitcher. Pour the wines, cider, and vodka over the top and stir well to combine.
- Refrigerate overnight, or until chilled.
- Serve poured over ice with an apple garnish.