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.
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.
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.
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 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.