Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pressing Cider

It's halfway through November already, and getting cold and dreary and decidedly fall/winterish around here.

We had a few hard frosts and it even hailed one day. No snow yet, but it sure is getting cold!

On Saturday, my Great Uncle Gaylord invited us up (he lives next door) to have a cider pressing party and boy was it fun! And COLD! I never knew apple cider could be so cold and delicious!
None of us had really pressed cider before (besides Uncle Gaylord and my Dad) so we all got to learn how.

First, you get some apples.
These are from Gaylord's apple trees. They're "organic" in that they don't have pesticides used on them. :)

From left to right: Ellie, Dad, Ethan, Uncle Gaylord and my youngest brother Scotty

Dad helping Ethan turn the crank on the press

Uncle Gaylord cracking jokes. :)

You put apples into the hopper of the cider press and turn the wheel and it shreds up the apples into a kind of pulpy mess. That falls down into a pressing crate thingy (see how much I know about cider pressing?) and when it's full you slide it over to the press. You put a lid on the pressing crate and then turn the crank to exert pressure onto the crate, which squeezes the cider out into a canning pot.

Tim taking a turn at pressing the cider

Scotty bein' himself. ;)

Then, when the pot is full, you move it over to the straining table and pour it through a strainer. (Or a clean pillowcase, which is what we used.) Squeeze the juice out of the pillowcase and then ladle it into jugs ( a funnel is very helpful at this point!) and Bam! you have apple cider. 

We just leave it raw, we don't pasteurize it or anything, although you have to freeze it if you want it to stay good because it will turn and start fermenting in about 5 days if you don't freeze or can the extra.

What did we do with the leftover smashed apples? Feed it to the cows, of course!
Once the cider was pressed out of the apple bits, we took the pressing crate over and pounded the top out of it, letting the apples fall into a wheelbarrow.

My brother, Brian, pounding out the lid and the apple bits into the wheelbarrow

 Then we dumped the apple bits in the cow field and let the girls have a nice little treat. The kids loved having the cows so close! The cows weren't as excited as the kids. ;)

The cider is SO good! We drank it right as it was dripping out of the pressing crate, into our cups and it was cold and sweet and delicious. 

The weather was frigid too- somewhere in the upper 30's so we had to keep running inside and warming our hands at the woodstove so our fingers wouldn't get so cold they didn't work.  Mine actually got so cold they couldn't bend at one point, so I had to take a break. Squeezing that cider through the pillowcase was a chilly job!
We ended up getting around 12 gallons of  cider, which is more than we expected. We've been enjoying it immensely- warm, cold, putting it in muffins and bread and using it in gravy.  We're saving some for Thanksgiving too, to drink in fancy cups with dinner. :)

I'll be back tomorrow and Saturday with some recipes - it's been a while since I posted any so I'm giving you two- Squash Enchiladas and then Apple Cider Pumpkin Spice muffins!
Have a fabulous Thursday.


Kayci said...

How fun! You know if you add a bit of club soda to the apple cider you can have sparkling apple cider for Thanksgiving!

Becca Swan said...

ooh, good idea!! Maybe we'll do that. :)