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DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor
DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor

By Marianne Taylor

Oh, the joy of fall—the crisp morning air, the golden lighting, the leaves changing, kids back in school. It’s a time to nest and reconnect to the kitchen, home recipes and seasonal comfort foods.

One of my favorite fall recipes and a crowd-pleaser is homemade apple cider from fresh apples and cinnamon—a non-alcoholic refreshing spiced cider welcoming the change of season. It takes me back to my agrarian childhood in Ventura County, where local family farms outnumbered housing tracks. Each fall, my mom managed to come home with a large box of apples filled to the brim with several varieties inside. Nothing went to waste. Apples that weren’t eaten for lunch and snacks were used for cider making just in time for Halloween.

Your house will smell delightful in no time once you start your apple brew on the stovetop.

Okay, let’s get started.

I recommend using a variety of apples from local farms or organic sections in the grocery stores. Choose a variety of apples—Gala, Granny Smith, Red and Yellow Delicious and Jonathon. For a sweeter cider, use a ratio of three sweet to one tart; for less sweet, two sweet to one tart. Granny Smith and Jonathon apples are tart and semi-tart. It takes about one-third of a bushel to make one gallon of cider.

This recipe makes a quart of cider—adjust measurements as needed for larger servings.

Homemade Apple Cider


  • 10 apples, cut into 4-6 slices
  • Half cup sugar or Splenda
  • Four cinnamon sticks, or one tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Half tablespoon ground cloves
  • One quart of water, or enough to cover apples


  1. Wash your apples, cut away bruises and stems, and cut apples into quarter pieces leaving skin for color, flavor and nutrients.
  2. Place sliced apples in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover the fruit by at least 1 inch.
  3. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and sugar.
  4. Add enough water to cover the fruit by at least 1 inch.
  5. Cook over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower to a medium low heat.
  6. Cover and cook for two hours, stirring occasionally.
  7. Mash the fruit to release the liquids.
  8. Allow the cider to cook for one more hour.
  9. Strain the cider slowly through a fine mesh sieve in a large pot or pitcher. Discard the solids.
  10. Strain the cider one more time to remove any more solids.
  11. Serve the cider warm.

Homemade apple cider from scratch is like drinking a big cup of comfort. Enjoy!

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, a 501(c)(3) teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin Native focuses on educating local families, special needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military.

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