Manzanita Cider

We’re appreciating native plant recipes this holiday season! The fall issue of the new CNPS magazine, Flora, features a collection of seasonal native plant recipes from Alicia Funk, founder of the Living Wild Project and co-author of Living Wild — Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California. This week, we’re sharing her recipe for manzanita cider, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic!

Manzanita cider is a traditional drink of California, enjoyed by indigenous inhabitants in many parts of the state. Although all species have edible berries, Alicia uses Arctostaphylos viscida, since it is abundant in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada where she lives. The cider is easy to make, high in antioxidants and naturally sweet. Fill a blender with the dry berries and grind on low-medium for about a minute. This is a modern technique to crush the berries and expose the sweet powder, without crushing up the large seeds. Cover the crushed berries with cold water and soak for several hours to overnight. Strain and enjoy cold or hot.


Collect berries in summer.
Makes 1 gallon. Ready to drink in 2 months.


4 quarts manzanita cider (see above for method)
2 pounds raw cane sugar
8-quart pot
1-gallon jug
 for jug
1 packet dry wine yeast
Flip-top bottles
Iodine (for sterilizing)


Pour cider into pot, add the 2 pounds of sugar, and allow to simmer over heat until sugar dissolves.

Let cider cool and use a small amount of iodine to sterilize the jug.

Pour cider into sterilized gallon jug and add yeast.

Seal jug with the airlock and store in a cool location, 65-75 degrees F.

Let the cider bubble for approximately a month. After 
the bubbling subsides, allow it to sit for another week.

Siphon the cider into sanitized bottles, avoiding the 
yeast that has settled on the bottom of the jug.  Seal bottles and allow cider to sit for another 2 weeks or more for added flavor.

Avoid problems with wild plant collection

CNPS generally advises against collecting wild native plants, since toxic species can be misidentified as edible plants and wild collection runs the risk of harming sensitive species and habitats. Growing your own native habitat is a great solution that gives you easy access to an abundance of useful plants.

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