Fresh Homemade Apple Cider using Whey (Lacto-Fermented/Non-Alcoholic*)

Do you remember my homemade cream cheese recipe I wrote a couple of weeks back??? Well I’ve been playing around with some cider making the last couple of weeks as a way to use of all the leftover whey I was making (as well as enormous amount of apples we have at the moment). This is probably one of the most interesting things I’ve ever made. It’s absolutely delicious, but completely not what I expected. It’s buttery, caramely, fizzy, sweet, salty, sharp and appley all at once. It almost tastes like it’s cooked but it has an incredible freshness to it too. The taste reminds me somewhat of a Butter Menthol. My Mum thinks it tastes like how she imagined Butter Beer to taste in Harry Potter. It’s incredibly good though and I imagine it might become somewhat of a favourite.

This is a recipe I’ve adapted from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. It’s a traditionally fermented beverage, which relies on the production of lactic acid (the bacteria that ferments yoghurt or sauerkraut) to preserve the juice rather than alcohol. Lacto-fermented beverages used to be highly valued in traditional cultures and were also sold from soda fountains in old pharmacies as health tonics. They have several wonderful health benefits, such as being a natural probiotic, source of enzymes and electrolytes. Most importantly though they are super delicious and leave you feeling full of energy!

I’m sorry that this is going to be a bit of an inaccessible recipe, in that you’ll need to make yogurt cream cheese or have whey in order to do this.  It’s totally worth it though. It’s very much something different and fun to do.

Fresh Apple Cider 
(Lacto-Fermented/Non-Alhoholic*) 

Ingredients:
-About 30 Apples
-1/4 cup Whey (leftover from yoghurt cream cheese recipe, also make sure it doesn’t have milk particles i.e. it’s clear, and made from natural yogurt)
-1/2 heaped tablespoon of unrefined (Celtic, Maldon) sea salt
(My recipe here says that it’s important to use unrefined, natural sea salt but gives no reason why, I haven’t been able to find any other information otherwise. I imagine it would work ok with regular salt but that it’s not quite as good for you???)
You could also use:
2L (1/2 gallon) of commercial apple juice
1/4 cup whey
Pinch of salt (as commercial juice is already pasteurised you shouldn’t need much salt
*I wrote that this is non-alcoholic but there are times when lacto-ferments are mildly alcoholic (probably 0.5-1%). I’ve found this most with fruits, especially ripe berries and will depend on the nature of the ferment (temperature, ripeness of fruit, speed of ferment etc). So this might not be 100% non-alcoholic every time but it’s definitely a great alternative to regular cider. 
Method:
1. Wash and juice the fresh apples with a juicer. You should get about 2L (1/2 gallon) of juice from 30 medium sized apples.
2. Remove any of the scummy foam that rises to the top and strain into a large, clean mixing bowl.
3. Add the salt and whey and stir well. 
4. Cover bowl with a tea towel and secure with large elastic band. Leave at room temperature for 3 days. You can check and taste the mixture at any time. I found it quite fun to see how the taste changed and developed over each day. I stirred mine quite a lot too. It’s a good idea to check for mould after a day or so (not a good sign). This happened to me the first time I made it as I didn’t add salt. I saw small white dots of mould forming within less than a day of leaving it. If it starts to mould, it hasn’t worked and you’ll need to throw it out (I’m sorry).
5. After three days the juice will have fermented and there should be a small amount of bubbly foam on the surface. Remove as much of this as you can with a spoon, then strain mixture into 2 one litre jars/jugs/containers/bottles and store in refrigerator. There will be sediment on the bottom too. I rather quite like this and shake it into my cider but if you want to leave it it’s fine, it should stay there when you pour out the cider. 
The cider is ready to be drunk straight away, although the flavours should continue to develop and deepen over several weeks. If you plan to leave it a while, store in an tightly covered bottle/jar, otherwise it’s fine in a jug!

Done! I really hope this works out for you. It took me a couple of goes to get it right. Just don’t skip on the salt or whey and you should be fine. The brown colour of the juice isn’t the prettiest of things, I wonder if adding some fresh lemon juice would help at all?? Experiment with different juices too, most should work using the same quantities and method above.
Serve with lots of ice and enjoy!

Have you ever tried making homemade cider before? If you make this let me know how you go. And I’ll be interested to to hear what you think it tastes like too! :)

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