The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources explains the difference between apple juice and apple cider. When you make apple juice, you filter and pasteurize the liquid left after you press the apples. Pasteurization gives apple juice a longer shelf life than that of unpasteurized apple cider. At home, use a process similar to canning to make apple juice: sterilize and seal your jars of apple juice to give it a shelf life of 18 months to two years.

Things You'll Need

Buy or pick 1 quart of a bushel of sweet apples to make 1 gallon of apple juice. Choose a sweet variety to avoid adding sugar to your homemade juice. A bushel is 42 to 48 pounds of apples.

Put the lids of the jars you’ll use to store apple juice in hot water for five minutes. Keep the water below the boiling point. Lift them out with magnetic lid lifters.

Wash with soapy water the canning jars you’ll use to store apple juice.

Sterilize the jars you’ll use to store apple juice. Put them in your dishwasher if it has a “sterilize” setting. Otherwise, boil your jars for 10 minutes. Leave them in hot water so they won’t break when you fill them with hot apple juice. Lift them out with jar-lifting tongs or pour the water out and use hot pads, touching only the outside of the jars.

Wash and cut your apples, but leave the skin on. Either discard their core now or after filtration in step 9.

Put the apple slices in a large pan and fill it with water. If you normally drink filtered water, use the same type in this step.

Cover the pan and put it on a stove burner on high. When the water comes to a rapid boil, reduce the temperature to medium high. Cook the apples until they’re mushy.

Line a metal colander with several sheets of cheesecloth and place it over a large heat-safe container.

Filter your apple juice by pouring it into the colander and letting the juice run through. According to PickYourOwn.org, this process might take one hour. Keep the juice and discard what’s left in the colander.

Move the filtered apple juice to a pan and heat it to a low simmer.

Pour the hot juice in your glass jars, leaving ¼ inch of space between the liquid and the rim. This process will be easier if you use a funnel. A soup ladle works, too, but it takes longer and might be a bit messy. Put the lids on and tighten them.

Put the juice jars in a pan or canner and fill it with about 2 inches of boiling water. Cover the pan.

Boil the juice jars for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on your altitude and the size of the jars. (See Tips.)

Remove the jars from the boiling water and put them where no one will disturb them until they’re cool. That might take eight to 12 hours. After they cool, the jars can go in the refrigerator, but it’s not necessary.


Tips

  • If your altitude is no higher than 1,000 feet, keep your jars of juice in boiling water for 5 minutes if you have pints or quarts and for 10 minutes if you have half-gallons. If you live above 1,000 feet but below 6,000 feet, boil pints and quarts for 10 minutes and half-gallons for 15 minutes. Above 6,000 feet, pints and quarts should stay in boiling water for 15 minutes and half-gallons for 20 minutes.