Now that Fall is here, it’s time to start enjoying the harvest. I’ve mentioned before that where I grew up, apples were a huge deal. Just an easy drive West brought us to the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains. We’d spend a Saturday enjoying the Fall colors as the leaves changed, then pick up bags and bags of apples of all types, along with a few gallons of apple cider.
Now, my parents weren’t big drinkers. Dad enjoyed a beer every so often and Mom enjoyed her small glass of wine. I don’t all y’all thinking I grew up with bad parents, OK? In fact, I don’t know that Dad ever tasted moonshine, and I’m positive Mom wouldn’t go near the stuff, except perhaps as a cleaning agent.
I first tasted it at the tender age of 14 when I ran away from home. I know, it’s dumb, but a lot of kids run from perfectly acceptable lives, sure in their knowledge that they could do just fine in the world. The plan was for three friends and I to hitchhike to Florida (from Northern Virginia). We made it as far as Elizabeth City, NC, where we met a kindly old man who gave us a 30-mile ride. Near the end, he stopped at his brother’s place for a minute. And that’s when I was intriduced to moonshine.
Now, we’re talking the real stuff. Made in a still hidden out in the woods, away from “revenoors” and other prying eyes. All I remember is that it made my throat hurt and my eyes water. And when the kindly old man and his brother offered us work manning the still, we all politely-as-you-please turned down the offer and continued on our way. (Shortly after this, the trip was called to a halt by Elizabeth City’s version of Sherriff Bigbuckle. But that’s another story.)
Fast forward a few decades and a friend introduced me to Apple Pie Moonshine. Boy, what a difference in taste. I could not only dirnk this stuff, but I wanted to drink it. I mean, it tasted GOOD! Obviously, considering that most of the liquid in this is actually apple cider and juice, you’re not going to get the kick you would out of straight grain alcohol. But I can tell you, it’s important to watch how much of this you drink. Because if you’re not careful, you’re going to hit the floor. Hard.
You have been warned.
1 gallon spiced apple cider
1 gallon apple juice
1-1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cup light brown sugar
8 cinnamon sticks
1 bottle (750ml Size) 190-Proof Grain Alcohol (Everclear)
In a very large pot, combine apple cider, apple juice, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for about five minutes, then turn off heat and let it all cool down to room temperature.
When mixture is completely cooled, add the grain alcohol and stir to blend.
Divide into sterile mason jars. Add one or two sticks of cinnamon to each jar.
If you’re doing small jars, you can use extra cinnamon sticks so that every jar has at least one.
The Apple Pie is ready to drink as soon as you blend it all, but it gets even better as it mellows for a week or two. It can be served over ice, at room temperature or warmed. Don’t warm it too much, though, or you’ll cook the alcohol right out of it.
If you don’t have space in the fridge to store the entire batch, you can store extra jars in a cool dark spot, such as a pantry or basement.
Most of us can’t get real moonshine anymore – unless you live or know people in the Deep South. That’s why you see Everclear in the recipe. It’s the closest you can get to real, down-in-the-holler ‘shine.
Remember, this is stronger than it tastes. Be careful and drink in moderation. And if you get fall-down drunk, give your keys to someone else, or sleep on your friend’s couch. It is NOT MANLY to drive drunk.
Have fun, and don’t forget to
Play with your food… er… drink!
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