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how to make apple juice with apples

Making apple juice is a great way to use up apples that are past their prime. It's easy and fun for the whole family to make together, and it tastes delicious!

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How to make apple juice with apples

Homemade apple juice tastes so much better than store-bought juice, and you can preserve it without added stabilizers or sugar. Learn how to make apple juice and home can it for your food storage shelves.

jars of canned apple juice on a table

Reading: how to make apple juice with apples

Tips for Making Apple Juice

Apple juice is made by cooking apples with water and straining it to separate the juice from the solids. It is then heated, poured into jars, and processed in a water bath canner to make it shelf stable. Here are tips for a making and preserving a flavorful apple juice:

Use a Variety of Apples

Each apple has unique sweet, acid, or astringent properties. Choose ripe apples that are naturally sweet, and you won’t miss the sugar. A few tart apples should also be included because they add more flavor and natural tannic acid that helps preserve flavor.

We have eight apple trees on our property. Although we are unsure about the varieties, we do know that there are at least three types, four if you include the crabapple tree.

The best tasting apple juice I have made came from a blend of apples from our yard along with others from a local u-pick orchard. Most orchards also offer what they call, seconds at a lower price. These apples may not look pretty, but they are perfect for making apple juice.

Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

Both apple cider and apple juice are a fruit beverage made from apples. The major difference is cider is a raw, unfiltered juice that contains apple pulp and sediment. It us usually made by pressing or crushing the apples and collecting the juice. While apple juice is filtered to remove the solids, and pasteurized so it will last longer.

How to Make Apple Juice

You don’t need an apple press to make apple juice. You just need a way to heat the apples to break down the fruit so it releases juice. Then the juice is strained from the solids by letting it drip through a jelly bag or layers of cheesecloth. There are several ways you can accomplish this using common kitchen equipment:

  • Heat Apples on the Stove: You can cook the apples in a large pot with water until softened, and then strain the apple pulp to let the juice drip through a jelly bag.
  • Use a Pressure Cooker: An electric multi-functional pressure cooker (such as Instant Pot) is a fast way to cook the apples. You will need to do two batches of apples. Place about 6 pounds of the prepared apples, and 1/2 cup of water into the pressure cooker. Cover and set it to Pressure Cook for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally after the cooking cycle is complete. Open the lid, stir the apples, and strain to separate the solids from the juice. Add about 3 cups of additional water when you re-heat the juice to can it.
  • Use a Steam Juicer: If you preserve a lot of juice or fruit jelly, you may want to consider investing in a steam juicer to speed up the process. A steam juicer is a stacked multi-pot unit. The fruit is put into the top pot, which is stacked over a collection pan. This is placed over a bottom pot of water, and placed on the stove. As the water boils, steam rises, and the fruit releases the juice. The juice drips through the perforated holes into the collector pan. If you are using a steam juicer, follow the manufacturer’s directions to extract the juice concentrate, and add water when you heat the apple juice for canning.

How to Achieve a Clear Juice

A cloudy apple juice just has tiny bits of pectin and apple solids in the juice. Commercial apple juice goes through a process that removes these particles. Here are tips for achieving a clear apple juice like you find in the grocery store:

  • Let the juice drip naturally from the cooked apples for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator using a jelly bag.
  • Don’t squeeze the jelly bag. Squeezing will force small particles of apple pulp through the strainer, and will make your apple juice cloudy.
  • Let the sediment settle. Cover and refrigerate the juice overnight to let the sediment sink to the bottom. When you are ready to can the juice, ladle it out carefully without disturbing the sediment at the bottom. You will get less juice, but it should be nice and clear.

Don’t Have a Water Bath Canner?

You can use a large sauce pot to can the jars as long as it is tall enough to cover the tops of the jars by a few inches, plus two or more inches of space to prevent boiling water from splashing out of the pot. Place a rack in the bottom to hold the jars up away from direct heat, so they won’t break, and can in several batches depending on the size of your pot.

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Apple juice also freezes very well. To freeze apple juice, let it cool, and pour into freezer safe containers. Leave about a 2-inch headspace to allow for expansion. Label, date, and place the containers in the freezer. Apple juice will last in the freezer for 4 to 6 months. Thaw the apple juice overnight in the refrigerator.

Ways to Use Apple Juice

We like canning apple juice in pint-sized jars that can be chilled in the refrigerator, opened, and enjoyed fresh. Larger jars come in handy to make mulled apple juice by simmering on the stove with spices. You can even use apple juice as the liquid to home can fruits such as peaches, pears, or apple slices.

Steps to Making and Canning Apple Juice

If you are new to canning or haven’t canned in a while, it may be helpful to review this article on water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for making and canning unsweetened apple juice:

Step 1: Gather the Canning Gear:

  • Water Bath Canner with a canning rack
  • 6 pint sized canning jars (or 3 quart sized jars)
  • Canning lids and bands
  • Jelly bag or cheesecloth
  • Candy thermometer, or instant read thermometer
  • Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, and funnel
  • Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a cutting board, knife, large sauce pot, large bowl, small pot, large spoon, and kitchen towels.

Step 2: Extract the Juice from the Apples

Wash the apples well under clean running water. Remove the stems, blossom ends, and chop into 2-inch chunks. There is no need to peel or core the apples because these will be strained out after cooking.

Place the apples in a large sauce pot, add water, and cook over low heat until the apples are soft and release their juices. Simmer slowly and avoid overcooking because it can destroy the flavor.

cut apples in a pot

Strain the cooked apples through a damp jelly bag or double layers of cheesecloth. Let the juice drip for at least 2 hours. Don’t squeeze the jelly bag if you want a clear juice.

Discard the solids, or you can run the solids through a food strainer to remove the peels, cores, and seeds for a small batch of applesauce.

While the juice is straining, wash the pot well with hot soapy water. You will reuse this to heat the juice before canning.

Step 3: Prepare the Canning Equipment

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Place the canning rack into the water bath canner, and position on a large burner of your stove. Wash your jars with hot soapy water, rinse well, place them in the canner, add water, and boil the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize.

Heat your canning lids in a small pot over low heat (follow the manufacturer’s directions. Keep the canning jars and lids warm until they are ready to use.

Step 4: Can the Apple Juice

Add the strained apple juice to a large sauce pot. Attach the candy thermometer to the pot. Turn the burner on to medium-high heat and warm the juice to 190˚F (88˚C). Do not boil, but adjust the heat to keep the juice at 190˚F (88˚C) for at least 5 minutes.

heating apple juice for canning

Remove the warm jars from the canner, drain, and fill with hot apple juice leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.

Place the jars back into the canner, adjust the water level so it covers the jars by a few inches, and process the apple juice a water bath canner as instructed below. Let the jars cool, test the seals, label and date the jars, and store in a cool, dark location for 12 to 18 months.

mason jars of apple juice on a blue towel

Other Ways to Preserve Apples:

  • Spiced Apple Jelly Canning Recipe
  • How to Can Apple Slices
  • Homemade Applesauce Canning Recipe
  • 3 Ways to Dehydrate Apples for Food Storage

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