Monday, October 28, 2013

Something Old, Something New. . .

Several years ago, Mother-in-Law brought us what she called a 'cider press'.  She brought it to us because 1) we have a lot of wild apple trees in the woods and DH had mentioned wanting to try to make cider, 2) she had this old press sitting around somewhere (cellar?  basement?  barn?) gathering dust and she rediscovered it while looking for antiques to sell, 3) she didn't want it sitting around taking up space and gathering dust at her place anymore.

The first fall we had it, DH traveled too much for work and before we knew it, the time for pressing apples had come and gone.  The second fall we had it, there were no apples to be found, due to late frosts and freezing weather in May after the trees had pollinated.

This year, we have an abundance of apples. In fact, one limb of one tree in the woods broke because it was so overloaded with apples.  Off of that one limb, DH and I harvested a bushel and a half of apples.  Those, we designated as our cider apples.

Yesterday we finally got around to pressing apples.  With excitement, I had cleaned and sanitized the cider press.  DH and I had washed off the first half-bushel of apples, our trial batch.  We had talked for years of making cider, and now we were actually doing it!  A new skill to add to our portfolios, a new product off our own land!

We loaded the press about half full--which was maybe 1/6 of that half-bushel of apples we'd washed.  DH started cranking on the wheel of the press, slowly mashing down on the apples.

Slowly is the operative word.  It went. . . slowly.  Really, really slowly.  The press didn't seem able to crush the apples.  So, we released the pressure, I fished around in the barrel of the press, pulled out mostly whole apples, and cut them into quarters with a knife.  We put the lid back on, DH started cranking again.

I'll just cut to the chase here instead of dragging you through three hours of trial and error, and figuring out that what we have is not a cider press.  It seems to be a fruit press, more suited for grapes and other easily squish-able things (like, say, tomatoes!!  I have an idea for next year's tomato juice!) than for apples.

We gave up on the idea of pressing all bushel and a half of apples.  We squashed the original half-bushel as much as we could; after I cut them into smallish chunks.  Our result was a bit over 1/2 gallon of cider.

I decided the other bushel of apples I would just cook down into juice and can that. They are tasty apples, made delicious cider, but not for that amount of effort.  DH said he'd rather pay $8 a gallon from the store than get 1/2 gallon for 3 hours of sweat and cranking on that darn press.

Organic, hand-pressed, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider.

Today the cider looks like cider.  Nice and golden brown.  Yesterday it was rather an off-putting brackish green by the time we got done fooling around with the press.  It tasted delicious right off the bat, but was the kind of thing you'd want to close your eyes before drinking.  Otherwise you might not have been brave enough to drink it.  Today I have to fight people off of it!

We also carved pumpkins this weekend, and made doughnuts to eat after the pumpkin carving was completed.

frying doughnuts, two at a time

your choice of powdered sugar, or cinnamon sugar

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