Sweet apple cider

Last Sunday, we decided that it was time to try out the apple press because the apples at our favourite pick-your-own orchard, Pieter’s Appleyard, owned and operated by friends  Jennifer and Jess Madamba, were ready for picking.   Because we weren’t concerned if the fruit had a few bruises, we picked grounders, apples that have fallen off the tree.

1 bushel of Cortlands, Macs, & Galas

Washed & rinsed

Because they were grounders, we decided to cut them in half to catch any rotten spots or bugs. Fortunately we only did enough for a trial run because the grinder on the press could get a good grip on the apple halfs and passed many of them through more or less untouched. Not knowing whether this mattered or not, we decided to press what we had.

Good looking apples with few blemishes

Beginning to grind

We got juice but the large chunks that the grinder had missed clearly still had a lot of juice in them so we decided to put the coarsely ground apples through a food grinder and press them again.

AAAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

Lots of juice left

A finer grind

A second pressing – Much better results

The remaining apples were put through the press’s grinder without being cut in half. There were hardly any large pieces and we got a lot more juice. But when I looked at the pressed bits of apple, it seemed to me that were was still a fair bit of juice in them. So we decided to put these pressings through the food grinder as well. We got a lot more juice once again. What was left was extremely compacted and very dry. The pattern of the mesh bag was imprinted on it. In the future, we will put the apples through the food grinder before we press them because it’s clear that the finer the mash, the better the pressing.

The remains of 1 bushel of apples

Mesh imprinting

The results were delicious. Of all of the things we have done in the garden over the past few years making cider has to be one of the most enjoyable along with bee keeping and wild harvesting grapes, rose hips, and autumn olives for jelly. I think it’s because they connect us to the past. Those Kentish villagers making apple cider when Julius Caesar arrived in Britain would have had the same round-eyed look of pleasure that we did when the first sip was tasted. And the wild honey seekers of 8,000 years ago shared our enjoyment of harvesting that first bit of comb.

And the sweet cider we made? It can speak for itself.

4 litres

More pictures.

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7 Responses to Sweet apple cider

  1. Mike says:

    Your cider looks great, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on pressing it…especially in regards to using the food grinder to get more juice.

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Mike,

      It tastes even better than it looks. Although we took a simple, naive approach, there’s a whole world of cider making on the level of wine and beer making. I doubt that we’ll go there but we will be using apples from our orchard, our crabs, and the wild apples in our woods. And maybe a bit of hard cider……………. Or maybe apple wine. Hmmmmm, I can see that this is leading down another path. 😉

      Regards,
      Mike

  2. Eden says:

    That’s exactly how the leftover mash looked when we made cider when I was a kid – very dry. We used a meat grinder. When the apples got stuck, it was usually the halves fitting in it a certain way and the blades slipping on the skin – I think we fished those out and cut them in quarters. I look forward to getting our press operational next year!

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Eden,

      Yep, using the meat grinder made a huge difference. For the quantities that we were making this worked very well but for large quantities, we’d have to find a faster, easier way of grinding to produce that mash consistency. I hope you get your press going next year. It’s well worth it.

      Regards,
      Mike

  3. Eden says:

    Our grinder was hooked up to an electric motor. Not very sustainable, but quick!

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Eden,

      I think it depends on how you are using the electric grinder. If you are using it because you have no choice, yes, it’s not very sustainable. If your are using it because it’s quick, easy & convenient, sustainability isn’t a consideration. Let me try an example. If you use poly-tunnels to extend your growing season and they are critical to your food production, i.e., you’d have a food shortage without them, then you have a sustainability problem. If the poly-tunnels aren’t critical to your food supply, then you don’t have a sustainability problem.

      The word sustainability has been so abused that it’s almost lost its meaning. In fact the UN definition of sustainability – “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” is terrible. How do we know what the needs of future generations will be? And the sentence is constructed so that the needs of the present precede the needs of the future. I much prefer the word regenerative. If present development is regenerative, then we are not impacting future needs at all. I like to use dependency in place of sustainability. What would I do if I didn’t have something? What would I do if I couldn’t buy vegetable seeds each year? Since that would present me with a food problem, that’s a dependency that I should address. Fortunately, it’s easy to save seeds.

      Regards,
      Mike

      Regards,
      Mike

  4. Eden says:

    I see what you mean, Mike. I guess I would consider the electric grinder unsustainable not in that I think my supply of electricity will dry up in the near future, and I will be lost without the ability to electrically grind apples 😉 but because our electricity here is coal-powered and I’d rather not use more of it than necessary. I’m looking into ways of generating small amounts of electricity. I agree with you that “sustainability” is so diluted and vague in application as to often be meaningless. Maybe I could have used the word “wasteful” but then I suppose I’d have to take into account the savings of not buying commercially produced cider… not that I would… you see the difficulty!

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