It’s hard to beat the freshness of home-pressed apple cider, but that freshness doesn’t last long. Fresh pressed apple cider begins to ferment on its own in as little as 24 hours if left unrefrigerated, or in about a week in the fridge.
Depending on where you live, you may not be able to get fresh cider without chemical preservatives, so canning your own is the best way to savor the taste of fall all winter long.
We can up home-pressed cider in quart and half-gallon mason jars, and warm it on the wood stove with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove for a quick mulled cider mid-winter.
I save a couple of half-gallon jars of canned apple cider for parties, and a thick-bottomed enameled cast iron pot on the wood stove makes the whole room smell like fall. Having it slow cooking like that means that anyone can serve themselves as they please, and the spices gently infuse as it heats.
I’m also a huge fan of sparkling cider, and adding a bit of seltzer to home-canned cider will give you something that tastes exactly like the Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider I grew up drinking on special occasions as a kid. I have so many good memories tied to sparkling apple cider that anytime I’m having a particularly tough day, I pour myself a cold glass of half home-canned cider and half seltzer water and my cares just fade away.
Our homestead orchard has more than a dozen apple trees, many of which are perfect winter storage apples. With a little preparation, good storage apples will keep all winter in a cool basement or back room.
Those that don’t store well on their own go into canned applesauce, canned apple pie filling and then anything that’s left is pressed on our double barrel cider press into tasty cider for canning. If you don’t have a press, you can always make a DIY cider press for small batches.
Technically, apple cider is unfiltered apple juice that’s never been heated, so canning your own cider means that it’s not cider anymore by a legal definition. Give it a try, and there’s no way you’ll call this home-canned cider plain old “juice.”
Store-bought apple juice is heavily filtered and has little character. Home-canned cider tastes like it just came off the tree, even a year after it was put up.
How to Can Apple Cider
Apple cider is naturally high in acid and doesn’t need any added sugar or lemon juice to preserve by water bath canning. Start by preparing a simple water bath canner and bringing it to a boil. Be sure to test your pot and make sure it’s deep enough before you start canning in half-gallon jars, or simply put it up in quart or pint jars.
If you’re using half-gallon jars, the pot will need to be 2-3 inches taller than a sealed half-gallon mason jar. The water level needs to be at least 1 inch above the top, and then you’ll need at least 1-2 inches of headspace above the jars for a vigorous boil.
As the canner comes up to a boil, bring the cider to a boil in a separate pot. You don’t want to cook it, just bring it right to a boil and can it immediately.
Fill clean canning jars (pint, quart or a half-gallon) leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Center 2 part lids canning lids on the jars and seal them to finger tight.
Place the canning jars filled with boiling hot apple cider into a boiling water bath canner. Make sure that the jars are at least 1 inch below the water line.
Process in a water bath canner for 5 minutes for pints and quarts, and 10 minutes for half-gallon jars. (Remember to adjust for altitude.) Once the canning time is complete, turn off the canner and leave the jars in the water for 5 more minutes before removing them to cool.
Once the jars are cool, check the seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator. Sealed jars will keep at room temperature for 12 to 18 months. After that, I’ve noticed that quality begins to degrade and the juice will lose flavor.
Here’s the process in a nutshell:
Method: Water Bath canner – Hot pack – Bring cider to a boil before filling jars and place into a hot boiling water bath canner.
Headspace: 1/4 inch
Process Time: 5 minutes for pints and quarts, 10 minutes for half gallons (adjust for altitude). Turn off heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars.
Low-Temperature Canning Cider
My old school canning book Stocking Up from 1977 has a different process. They note that long boils in water bath canners can hurt the delicate flavors of some juices. I’d hardly call a 5-minute water bath can a “long process time” but still, they suggest a low-temperature pasteurization for apple cider.
“The delicate flavor of most fruit juices can be spoiled by the high temperatures of a long boiling water bath. For this reason, directions state that some juices be poured boiling hot into sterilized jars and sealed without processing, and other juices be processed in a hot water bath, which means that the water is steadily kept at 185 to 190 degrees F….Pour [apple cider] into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process pints and quarts in a 185-degree hot water bath for 30 minutes.”
From the directions in stocking up, it’s unclear whether or not the juice is first brought to a full boil or if it’s just brought to 185 degrees F before being poured into hot canning jars.
The National Center for Food Preservation doesn’t explicitly condone low-temperature canning for apple cider, but they do have instructions for low-temperature canning pickles. Pickles have a similar process time as apple cider, and here are the instructions they give for low-temperature pasteurization:
“The following treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Place jars in a canner filled half way with warm (120º to 140º F) water. Then, add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars. Heat the water enough to maintain 180º to 185º F water temperature for 30 minutes. Check with a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180ºF during the entire 30 minutes.”
I’ve been told by a friend who’s used this method that all the jars sealed and it worked well. I’ve yet to try it, but in theory, if canning cider at a lower temperature for a longer time should be sufficient to render them safe for room temperature storage. Be aware though, to the best of my knowledge this method is not considered a “safe tested recipe” by the National Center for Food Preservation.
Are you just using store bought cider ?
We press our own every year with a 2 barrel cider press. We make around 20-30 gallons consistently. A few years back we had a cider pressing party and made over 100 gallons in a day, canned a lot of it and made hard cider and vinegar.
If you want, you can use store bought cider. It’s a good way to ensure you have a supply of the preservative free stuff in mid winter.
I don’t have a cider press, would a juicer work to make the cider? I am not sure if it would come out the same (of similar)?
Yes, a juicer works just fine. Before we had a press we used a juicer. It takes quite a bit longer, but it works!
How long can the cider be in the cellar before fermenting?
If you water bath can it and the jars are properly sealed, they should last for years, and it should not ferment in a canning jar. If it does, something went wrong in your canning process. USDA guidelines say not to keep home canned food past a year, but practically, many people keep home canned for many years without issue. A few weeks ago I found a jar from 3 years ago that had gotten lost in the back of my cellar and it was just fine.
If you want to follow the official recommendation, can it and make sure it’s sealed (lid popped down) and then store it for no more than a year.
I have a squeezo. When I use that it makes applesauce. Is that the start of my cider process? Can a juice steamer work better? I want to make cider or unfiltered apple juice without cooking away all the nutrients, is this possible with the equipment I mentioned?
You can just take this mixture and filter it to remove the juice. Here is a post on a homemade cider press that might be helpful. https://practicalselfreliance.com/build-a-diy-cider-press-for-free/
I had to read the wiki entry to get my head around what you call ‘cider’. It’s fresh apple juice! In the rest of the world cider is fermented, while hard cider is what you buy for cash from a farm, the real strong cloudy stuff.
To make fresh cider, apples are washed, cut and ground into a mash that is the consistency of applesauce. Layers of mash are wrapped in cloth, and put into wooded racks. A hydraulic press squeezes the layers, and the juice flows into refrigerated tanks. This juice is
bottled as apple cider.
Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice.
Yup, you’re right Micheal. I live in the rest of the world as well and cider = alcohol. This is juice. Not the USian juice that has sugar and isn’t actually juice. Thanks for asking the question because I was completely confused thinking this recipe was making (alcoholic) cider!
I canned our pressed cider and probably should have filtered/strained it. It has a lot of bits on the top and bottom of the jars. Have you had this happen? Is it still good?
Yes! That’s supposed to happen. That’s the natural pectin in fresh cider. For juice you buy in the store, they cook it to get all of that out and then filter it before bottling. In my opinion, a lot of the “fresh cider” flavor is in there. If you filter it out, you’ve actually just replicated supermarket juice. It does settle out after canning to the bottom of the jar, but I always shake it back in before I pour a cup. It’s also great stirred in if you’re making mulled cider on the stove.
If you want to minimize it (and keep more flavor in the cider) then just barely bring the cider to a boil before putting it in the jars, and take it out of the canner promptly when your timer rings. That will ensure it’s not overcooked and keep much of the good bits from settling out.
To my understanding there are different local definitions of what cider is through out different regions. The way I grew up cider was unfiltered raw apple juice with spices in it where as apple juice could be filtered or not but had no additional spices added. Hard cider was apple juice that was fermented. This is just a local definition so i’m sure it differs greatly from the official definition.
Interesting. Around here anything with added spices is called mulled cider, and it’s always cooked. I’ve been told in Europe, especially England, “cider” always means hard alcoholic cider. It’s different everywhere. Thanks for sharing!
Shannon L Johnson
I made some apple cider and sealed the canned jars using a water bath, I’m just confirming that these are ok to store in the cellar like this and will remain good for drinking throughout the year. I’m new to canning so just want to be sure on this part of the process so that they dont go bad. They all sealed properly with a “pop” 🙂
Yup, that’s the process. If they sealed and “popped” then they don’t require any refrigeration. I still have quarts in my pantry from last year, and they’re good as the day they were sealed.
Wait, so as long as the fresh cider is sealed correctly, it doesn’t need to be put in the freezer for storage? We had a apple-fest this past weekend where we pressed about 40 gallons in an old 1870s cider press. I’m canning the bulk up now but everything I’ve read online says it needs to be frozen to prevent it from fermenting, even if sealed. Thanks so much for all your knowledge!!!
It only needs to be frozen if you don’t water bath can it. If you can it, it’s shelf stable just like jam, but just make sure the jars seal and the little popper in the center of the two-part ball canning lids is down. Once you open it though, whenever that is, a month or a year later, it needs to go in the fridge until you’ve used it all.
I’ve found that canned cider actually tastes a lot better than frozen cider because the frozen cider separates.
Fantastic! I always worry if the freezer goes out, then all that hard work will just go in the garden. I stayed up until 2am canning two gallons of cider. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. =)
Can you make and can the cider with the mulling spices already added? I want to try a small batch of cider with the last of the apples I’ve got this year. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
Yes, but personally I’d cook the cider with whole spices on the stove and then remove the whole spices before canning. Depending on how long it’s stored the spices could get too strong if they’re left in there. That said, I know people who just toss a cinnamon stick and allspice berries into each jar at canning time.
Either way, yes, feel free to use spices, but use whole spices rather than ground.
Was just wondering if a water bath canner is nessary or if I can just boil the jars in the pot without the metal rack. Everyrhing I read wants a special rack to boil the cans on. Thanks ☺️
So a water bath canner can be just a giant stock pot full of boiling water. It just needs to be deep enough that the jars are covered by 1 inch of water over their lids. The rack underneath is there to keep the heat distributed evenly and prevent a jar from breaking if you have a thin-bottomed pot. I have a high-quality thick-bottomed pot and I’ve never used a rack in it. A rack is recommended though, and safer, especially with a thin pot. Instead of a rack though, you can arrange canning rings (the round metal part from the canning lid) on the bottom and use those as a canning rack. Here’s what I’m talking about, though it’s not totally necessary to strap them together: https://www.healthycanning.com/improvised-canning-rack-bottom-trivet
Thanks so much ☺️☺️☺️
if you dont have a canner you can put a layer of canning lids, right side up, in a tall stock pot, to keep the jars off the bottom of the pan,
Yes you can do that. You just want to be sure that the pot is big enough to have enough water over top and be sure that your jars have something to keep them up off the bottom of the pot and rings will work fine for that.
Some of my apple cider looks green. What does that mean? All my lids are sealed. Just some jars have a green color.
That’s a new one for me. I can’t say I’ve ever had that happen, and I have no idea what would cause that. I’m sorry I can’t be helpful with this one…
We’re the peels green or partly green?
So we are going to make apple cider this weekend. If we fresh squeeze the apples with our press, do we put the juice directly into the canning jars and then do the water bath? Or do we have to cook the cider first and when it’s hot out it into the jars? Sorry, im completely new to this and am trying to understand the process. Thank you!
Bring the cider to a boil and put it into the jars hot. Then process them in a water bath canner.
Can fresh apple cider be preserved using a pressure canner? If so, what would the correct times and pressures be?
Fresh cider requires so little processing time that sealing up a pressure canner would be overkill. By the time the pressure canner got up to temp the process would be done. If you have a pressure canner, you can just water bath inside the pressure canner without a lid. If for some reason you really need to pressure can it, there are no recommendations from the national center for home food preservation. Since quarts have a 5 minute water bath time, I would say pressure canning at really low pressure (5 lbs) for 5 minutes should be more than sufficient, but this is not a tested method. (This is all assuming you’re below 1000 feet in elevation.)
Make sure the cider is boiling when it goes into the jars and that the pressure canner is boiling with water at the bottom when you seal it up. Good luck.
I have been making fresh apple cider with my family since I was little. Now my husband and I have our own press which is exactly like the one you have pictured. We made cider yesterday and I canned it for the first time ever this morning following your directions! I wish I had read further in your comments because my first batch turned out great, but by the second bath I feel like I over cooked it. There were a lot of particles at the bottom the second time. I shook it up once the cans had sealed, and it looks better. Thank you for your posts! I am super excited to have cider year round now!
The apples I have are very tart. could I add sugar to my strained liquid and does that change how long I need to water bath. Thanks for your help
Yes you can add sugar to taste, no problem. That doesn’t change anything about the canning process. Enjoy!
Hi! I love your recipes for micro batches of fermented wines like peach and blueberry and we even tried rhubarb this year! Do you have a favourite recipe for a small batch of hard apple cider? We have some hertiage trees on our property and I thought I might try fermenting apple cider
Hey Lisa! Good timing =) I was just working on a post on hard cider when I saw your comment, so I finished it up and got it posted. Here you go!
I don’t have large jars but I do have bottles and growlers (like for beer). Can I use those and not do the water bath? Is the water bath just used to seal the lids or does it do something to the juice/cider? Thanks!
The water bath seals them and sterilizes everything. Without the canning step, the cider likely wont keep. If you have growlers and beer bottles though, you’re already really close to homemade hard cider…
The cider I make simmers down quartered apples and even whole oranges, peels and all, and then filtered with cheesecloth. Add brown sugar in the end. I really want to can it. Would it be ok to WB can with the orange and brown sugar? I saw in an earlier question and answer that the spices are fine.
Yes, everything in your recipe is fine for canning. Oranges and apples are both high acid, and brown sugar is good too. Though it’s not a tested recipe, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be just fine for canning since all the ingredients are fine for water bath canning, especially since you’re straining it.
Last year I froze my apple cider fresh from the press and it was wonderful. The only draw back is that it takes so much freezer space. I may purchase the small chest freezer from Costco and use it for frozen cider.
This year I used the lower temperature of 181 degrees, using an accurate thermometer, plus 1/4 teaspoon “Pickle Fresh” for canning dill pickles and they are the best I have ever canned. I will never go back to high temperature for canning pickles again. I also plan to use the lower temperature to can apple cider this Fall.
Nice! We’ve still got a whole tree of late-ripening apples to press, and I’m going to use low temp on those this year.
Did you try the lower temp canning? Would you say that there is any difference in taste to the boiling kind? 🙂 I’ve always been told to not boil cider because it will destroy the vitamin C and some other good stuff.
Question: I followed this recipe last fall/winter and the results were wonderful… but I have a question…
I have a few jars that I just found in the back of my pantry that were forgotten about. Seals are intact and they are 11 months old. Oops!
Upon closer inspection, some had actually started to grow a Mother. I haven’t opened them yet, but does this just mean they’ve started to turn to vinegar? Can they be used or should I just air on the side of caution and throw them out? If they are just normal vinegar, I know the health benefits would be amazing… but I don’t know how to tell the difference between good fermentation and bad 😬
I would just open it up and smell it. You will know if it has turned to vinegar by the smell.
If i little apple chunk gets throw the screening and it is properly water bathed do i have anything to worry about?
Thanks just did our second year family apple press canned over 40 gallons!
Teeny tiny pieces are nothing to worry about, but the actual scanning time for apple chunks of any substantial size is considerably longer. If you end up with big chunks in there, I’d suggest canning for the time suggested for apple slices. Use your best judgement, but I wouldn’t worry about super tiny tidbits personally.
I bought a gallon of apple cider from the store to make apple cider jelly. The cider will expire in 10 days in refrigerator. Can I can the remainder of the cider to preserve for use at a later date? Plan to try making my own later, but for now store bought is my only option.
Yes, you can can store-bought apple cider (provided it’s just cider, sometimes they add all kinds of stuff, check the ingredients). Make the jelly first though, canning as juice will denature the pectin so it won’t gel if you try to make jelly with canned apple cider.
We have a small family orchard and can our cider each year. I discovered the low temp canning method several years ago and it saved a ton of time & improved the taste of our cider. It has worked great for me as I can a hundred or more jars a year. My method is to filter our fresh pressed cider through several layers of good cheese cloth to remove unwanted debris. Then I wash & sterilize two qt. jars in a water bath while bringing the cider to a boil in another pot. Once it boils I do as mentioned above, pour hot cider into jars with 1/4” headspace & then screw on my sterilized lids w/ rings. Within a few minutes the happy lid popping sound begins. Some jars take an hour our more to seal. After 24 hours I check and lable jars, removing any unsealed jars to the fridge, which is rare. Then I wipe down & put the rest in my food storage. This canned cider tastes just as it did fresh from the press. Everyone loves it. It beats any cider from the store. Absolutely delicious!🍏🍎🥃
Thanks for sharing.
Kirige Dileepa Manuranga Dharmasiri
You’re welcome !
I am wanting to can some apple cranberry juice/cider. I have the fresh cranberries that were just harvested two days ago. Can I use store bought apple cider if it has less than 1% of potassium sorbate in it?
I guess you could do that but for me one of the major reasons for canning is to avoid any kind of preservatives.
A friend of ours had us over for a get together of making apple cider this was my first experience with this and we had such a good time and the fresh cider was amazing, I had got a gallon and a half and put in the fridge as soon as we got home, we have drink all but probably half gallon and I was wanting to can the rest for later but on opening it this morning there was the fermentation smell all still tastes great can I still can it?
With such a small amount, it might be easier to just freeze it.
I’ve been researching canning the juice in jugs. I can’t find a lid that specifically says you can use it in a water bath and it will seal. Have you ever looked into this? I would just prefer it for looks.
Adding to another question, do you know if you can can in growlers.? It seems that bottles of juice and such in the store are sealed with some kinds of plastisol caps.
Growlers I’m not sure, I don’t think the glass is made for that with many of them. Perhaps it’s possible with re-used ones from the store, which were made to be canned industrially in the first place. Fillmore container (https://www.fillmorecontainer.com/) sells all manner of glassware, and it might be worth talking to them about growlers they might have that are rated for canning. Good luck!
So happy I found your site. We have been pressing apples and bottling the fresh cider straight into plastic bottles then freezing. My question is could I can the cider once it has been defrosted? Just wondering if I need to free up freezer space. Thank you
Yes you can! Enjoy!
I don’t see any recipe! How much of each ingredients? I have no cider presser, first time I’ve heard of it… also I live in an apartment and have a small kitchen. I have a large pantry and lots of storage, but no space for cider press and no idea how to use it.
There isn’t a recipe for cider. It’s just raw, unfiltered juice from pressing the apples. This post here shows you how to use an apple press to make cider. https://practicalselfreliance.com/using-double-barrel-cider-press/ There is also a post here that shows you how to make your own press for free here.https://practicalselfreliance.com/build-a-diy-cider-press-for-free/ You can also check with local orchards in your area. They sometimes sell fresh cider that you can buy and can. Just be careful about buying storebought cider because it sometimes contains preservatives and other ingredients that you may not want to have in your cider.
Have you tried this with harvest guard or tattler lids, for either of the water bath options?
You can use reusable lids in this recipe just like you can any other. There tends to be a little bit of a learning curve with the reusable lids but once you get that down, the process is the same regardless of the recipe.
I just canned 28 quarts of my lovely fresh delicious home pressed apple cider, pressed on an over 100 year old cider press. NEVER AGAIN! I thought it would still be delicious by all the comments here. Followed your directions exactly as posted. . But it now just tastes like the crappy apple juice you buy in the store. Don’t ever can your fresh squeezed apple cider. You will ruin it. Will always make room to freeze it as usual from now on. So disappointed.
If I cook 12 lbs of the tiny red crab apples in 12 cups of water with all the spices and then press thru double layer cheese cloth and then heat and then can, is that apple cider ?
I’m not sure if that’d count as “apple cider” but it’d be an extracted juice, and delicious. They actually have specific instructions on basically doing that exact thing with regular apples for a canning apple juice recipe if you don’t have a juicer. The specific instructions are here, and it’d be the same for crabapples: https://practicalselfreliance.com/canning-apple-juice/
For our holidays we love to use good store bought apple cider mixed with powdered mulling spices containing sugar and spices warmed in a crock pot. Could I can what we have left over from this?
Yes, you should be able to. The mulling spices probably don’t include any thickeners (flour, etc), that’d be the only thing that’d cause problems (but why would that be in there?). Just spices and sugar is totally fine, and the instructions would be the same. Cinnamon/cloves tend to intensify during canning, or during storage, so you might want to try to filter out as much of that as possible before canning.