Apple Juice - Homemade!

apple juice sm This has been the “Summer of Fruit”. Everyone I know that has fruit trees tells me that their trees were LOADED! Friends like that are good to have when you are looking for fruit to can. In fact, friends Debbie and Tom emailed that their apple trees were burdened with apples and would we like some of those apples? Well . . YEAH!!! We’ll be right over! Tom was even gracious enough to climb those trees – against all odds according to Tom – to get those apples. We arrived to find the apples picked and loaded into boxes in the bed of their truck – ready for us to take home. Such a deal!

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The apples had a beautiful pink shading just under the skin and made the most beautiful pink apple juice. You can see how pink the juice is in the first picture. I use a Mehu Liisa Juice Extractor/Steam Cooker to make my juice. I found this steamer at Lehman’s Hardware . The Mennonite woman that took the steamer off the shelf and handed it to me said “You are going to love this thing!” And I do. I cannot imagine making juice any other way. The Mehu Liisa has three stainless steel parts.

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The bottom pan, or water pot, has an extra thick bottom and is used to hold boiling water. You have to be aware of the water level throughout the processing time because you don’t want the pot to boil dry. Notice the half hole along the front rim of the pot – that is where the drain tube, attached to the middle section, fits.

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The middle section, the juice container, catches the dripping juice and, by using the attached drain tube, allows you to drain the hot juice into jars. The drain tube has a clamp on it that makes it easy to drain the finished juice into jars. The tube gets hot when it fills with juice so be careful when releasing the clamp – which also gets hot.

applejuicerpart2insidessmThe inside of the juice container is made like an angel food pan – it has a coned center with a hole that allows the steam from the boiling water below it to reach the fruit held above it.

The top section holds the fruit and is basically a strainer. The rising steam from the bottom pan of boiling water softens the fruit and releases the juice. The fruit does NOT have to be peeled, seeded, pitted, or even pulled off stems – as in elderberries and that is a huge timesaver.

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The top section has a lid – you can see it in the picture to the left. The first time I used this steamer I was frustrated because the lid did not stay tight while the fruit processed. I called the company and was told that the lid is made to “float” and that it was doing exactly what it was meant to do. When the steamer is assembled it is about 16 inches tall.

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The steps for making apple juice are simple. Set the steamer on the stove with water in the bottom pan. I keep a pitcher of water near the stove and refill the bottom pan when the water lever drops. I simply lift the top two sections of the steamer and set them aside on the stove, add water, then put the sections back on top of the bottom pan to continue processing.

Wash and cut up the apples. I quarter the apples and cut out any brown spots or insect damage. No need to remove peels. In fact, some apples have peels that tint the juice pink – as you can see in the first picture at the top. I wish I knew what variety these apples were but the tree is old and the name is lost.

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For one batch of apple juice I weigh out 10 pounds of apple pieces and add them to the top of the steamer. I sprinkle on 1/4 cup of raw sugar, put the lid on, and turn the burner on high. That’s about it! When the water boils the apples will begin to release their juice into the container below.

The picture in the booklet that comes with the steamer shows the drain tube stretching to jars on the counter next to the stove. I like to use a small table in front of the stove to hold jars. I find the juice drains better if the jar is lower than bottom of the steamer.

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I drain the juice as the reservoir of the steamer fills. I drop the drain tube into a jar set in a big pot. The pot safely collects any overflow. Have several clean jars ready because they fill quickly. The clamp on the tube helps you control how fast the juice drains. Have pot holders ready because the jars, tubing, and clamp get hot. I cool my juice and put it into the refrigerator overnight to allow any sediment to settle. The next morning I carefully drain the clear juice, heat it to a boil, and ladle it into canning jars. I water bath both pints and quarts for 10 minutes.

FYI: You can run the leftover pulp through a crank tomato strainer and make a bit of applesauce – I usually give mine to the chickens.

I ultimately processed 40 pounds of cut up apples = 4 batches in the steamer = 9 quarts of tasty juice + a bit of tasting along the way. This juice will be a special treat on cold winter mornings. Thank you Tom and Debbie!

Hey from the farm
Fran The Country Cousin

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2 comments to Apple Juice – Homemade!

  • Debbie Venus-Fenrich

    Thanks of the “thanks” and for sharing this. You have some really nifty equipment! I should go to Lehman’s and get me one! Very cool! Never saw one of them before!!!

    • You’re welcome, Debbie. Your apples added to our winter pantry. The Mehu Liisa was bought years ago. When we decided to live “out here” and do more for ourselves I started to buy quality kitchen equipment – one thing at a time. I have always saved up until we could get the best we could find and it definitely has made processing our own food less of a struggle.

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