Pressing Apple Cider
Pressing apple cider is a chore I look forward to each fall. I have 4 apple trees at the farm (and a neighborhood tree) that produce sweet red apples, and a prolific tree at home that provides me with bushels of tart-green apples. The combination of the different types of apples produces a flavorful cider that is tart and refreshing, compared to most store-bought ciders that are overly rich and sweet.
To make cider, you will need to buy or borrow some basic equipment. The first piece you will need is a fruit crusher or grinder. Below is a photo of the model I purchased last year. It seems quite sturdy and easily worked it’s way through bushels of apples and it still looks brand new. It is made to sit on top of the cider press and grind directly into the press, but I found this to be flimsy and non-productive. So this year, I took a few scrap wood pieces and attached it to an old table and placed a bus tub below it to collect the crushed apples and juice. It worked extremely well.
The other major piece of equipment you will need is a fruit or cider press. The one I purchased is a 4.75 gallon model. The hardwood slats seem very sturdy and the overall design works well. It does require some time to assemble the unit the first time (it comes in pieces) but it will last a lifetime. The press comes with 8 hardwood blocks that you use to further compress the crushed apples. Eight blocks are sufficient if you start with a full load of crushed apples, but my last run was only 3/4 full, and I did not have the “reach” with the included blocks. So I will make a few more to have on hand for next years harvest.
So the basic process is:
- Collect apples
- Wash and sort apples
- Crush or Grind apples
- Press apples
- Bottle Cider
- Clean up
I collect milk or juice jugs all year long to use for storing the cider. If you leave a few inches of air space in the top of the containers, I found that they freeze extremely well and the quality of the frozen cider is very good.
Last year was my first experience with pressing cider and I pressed 8 gallons of cider. This year I enlisted family and friends and we ended up with 13 gallons of cider. Thank you Debo and Joe and Mom and Dad for your hard work and fellowship. It was a lot more fun (and a lot less work for me) this year.
Some of my other favorite recipes with apples:
The Apple-Maple variation is listed at the bottom of my fruit dressing recipe, and it is great on salads this time of the year. Leave the skin on either green-skinned or red-skinned apples for a little more drama in the finished dressing. Red skin will give a nice pink tone to the dressing and the flakes of color from both color skins adds some additional interest.
As nights begin to get cooler and with fall quickly approaching, I begin to think about making soups again. This has always been one my favorite fall soups. The richness of the sweet potatoes, a hint of rutabaga in the background, the tartness from the green apple, and the creamy-sweet sensation from the Maple Cream make this a well rounded and satisfying soup.