There are many wonders of the fall; the cool weather, the colors, the harvest. During the winter months, opening canned items from the year’s bounty can be nostalgic. They can also be great gifts during the holiday season.
A few year’s ago I began attending an annual apple cider press hosted by a local farm with an established orchard. The event has grown into a community affair, where neighbors come to help pick the harvest and bring their own apples, pears, or quince to throw into the press, adding a unique blend of local flavors. Last year, a friend had the idea to use the fresh-pressed juice in an apple pie moonshine recipe she was perfecting. The idea turned out to be a good one.
You don’t have to use fresh squeezed juice, but if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend it. If you don’t have enough fresh juice for the entire recipe, you can use part fresh and part store bought. The drink is an alcoholic beverage, and is easily stored in mason jars for the year to come. You can serve it hot or cold, but either way, it is bound to warm you up.
● 1 gallon Indian Summer Apple Juice (If you choose another brand, make it a high quality juice with high concentration.)
● 1 gallon Indian Apple Cider
● 8 cinnamon 6” sticks
● 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (You can also add fresh scraped vanilla from the bean to enhance the freshness and appeal. About two whole beans is recommended.)
● 1 tablespoon cinnamon
● 2 cups brown sugar
● 1 cup sugar
● 1 liter Everclear (If Everclear is unavailable you can use Bacardi 151, just add half a liter more to the recipe.)
● 4 fresh apples (Recommended: Honey Crisp, Granny Smith or Sweetango.)
● 24 16oz Mason Jars
Step 1: In a pot large enough to hold at least 2.5 gallons pour in the gallon of apple juice, the gallon of apple cider, and mix in brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon sticks.
Step 2: Bring the pot to a rolling boil on high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved into the liquid.
Step 3: Remove the pot from the burner and let cool. While cooling, add the ground cinnamon and vanilla extract (and fresh vanilla if desired) and stir until mixed. Put the lid on the pot and let cool for about two hours.
Step 4: IMPORTANT: Liquid needs to be lukewarm, not hot, before you can continue this step. Pour in Everclear or 151. If the liquid mixture inside the pot is still hot the alcohol will evaporate and you will have non-alcoholic moonshine.
Step 5: Using a ladle take the liquid from the cooled moonshine and pour it into the mason jars. Fill them 3/4 full. Once all of the jars are filled, cut the apples into slices and put a slice of apple into each jar before sealing.
Step 6: Refrigerate if wanting to drink cold or heat for 2 minutes in the microwave for hot. Moonshine stays good for over a year if canned, sealed, and stored in a cool place. All it takes is a bow and they’re ready to be gifted!