Apples are one of the most-nutritious foods on the planet, and all of us can benefit from having some in our emergency food supplies. One of the best ways to give you and your family access to the nutrients that apples provide is to make juice, and the process is a lot easier than most people think. Take a look at the basic recipe below, and see how you can whip up a batch of fresh, healthy and shelf-stable juice in a few simple steps.
All you need for this recipe are apples, water and a water bath canner. However, you’ll need a lot of apples to make a batch of 6 quart-sized jars. This is really the only drawback to this recipe, so it’s a good one to prepare during harvest when apples are cheap and abundant. As a general rule of thumb, expect to use about 25 lbs, or about 80 normal-sized apples, as well as about 8 cups of water.
The first step is to wash, remove the stems from the apples, and chop them into quarters. Let the apples soak in a large container or pot of cool water while you’re prepping in order to keep them from turning brown.
Once the apples have been cut, submerge the pieces in a large stockpot with the water. If you need to work in batches, use proportional amounts of the 8 cups of water based on the size of each one. Bring the heat up to a boil before immediately reducing to a simmer, cover and stir occasionally. Let the apples cook down until they’re tender and nearly ready to fall from the skins.
Straining and Canning
The next, and most tedious step, is to take small batches of the cooked apples and water and pour it through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Be patient as the liquid drips through, and mash down the pulp to extract as much as possible. Discard the pulp when finished, and continue straining until you’ve used up all of the apples. Keep straining the liquid over and over again until it reaches the consistency you like, but keep in mind that there will be a little bit of pulp in the finished product no matter how many times you strain. For perfectly pulp-free juice, you’ll need to use a juice steamer that produces liquid through evaporation instead.
Expect to let the apples strain for at least an hour in order to extract all of the juice, and time when you preheat the canner and warm the sanitized jars and lid assemblies accordingly. Transfer the strained liquid into the jars when finished, and fill each one until ¼ inch of headspace remains.
Packing and Storage
Wipe down the rims with a damp cloth or towel before attaching and tightening the lids and bands. Place the jars in the canner, make sure they’re completely submerged in water, bring to a boil, and process them for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool at room temperature overnight, and check the jars for seal integrity and damage before labeling, dating and storing the finished product. Keep the jars in a cool and dark place, and you can expect a shelf life of more than a year under most circumstances.
Try this recipe for yourself, and you’ll quickly discover how apple juice will be a welcome addition to your pantry and emergency stockpile. Not only is it a good source of nutrition, but the juice can also help to quench thirst and break up the monotony of drinking nothing but water during a prolonged crisis.