Juice of apples, preferably fresh from an apple-press
Take the largest cask [barrel] you have on your farm, from a barrel upwards; put a few sticks in the bottom, in the manner that house-wives set a lye case, so as to raise a vacancy of two or three inches from the bottom of the cask; then lay over these sticks either a clean old blanket, or if that not be at hand, a quantity of swindling flax, so as to make a coat of about a quarter of an inch thick, then put in so much cleaned washed sand, from a beach or road, as will cover about six or eight inches in depth of your vessel; pass all your cider from the press through a table cloth, suspended by the corners, which will take out the pummice [residue from the crushed apples] ; pour the liquor gently upon the sand, through which it must be suffered to filter gradually, and as it runs off by a tap inserted in your vessel, in the vacancy made by the sticks at the bottom, it will be found by this easy method, as clear cider can be expected by the most laborious process of refining; and all the mucilaginous matter, which causes the fermentation and souring of cider, will be separated so as to prevent that disagreeable consequence.
From The Dyer’s Companion by Elijah Bemmis, 1815.
Comment: This is not really a recipe as much as a description of a filtration process. However, the fact of the matter is that despite Mr. Bemiss’ promises, the cider made by this process WILL ferment (hopefully in a constructive rather than a “sour” way) since at no point is the fresh juice boiled. Apples naturally collect yeast on their outer peel, which will pass into the juice when they are crushed. The yeast will work on the natural sugars in the juice to form alcohol, just as happens in any other winemaking process. The “hardness” of the resulting product will depend on how long it is left undisturbed in the barrel to work.
Any historical account of a social event–particularly election rallies–which mentions that “apple cider” was served, should be treated on the assumption that the cider was hard. This may help explain both the large turnout at such events (lack of television is probably a factor here too) and the very frequently boisterous behavior of attendees.