This past Saturday we had a cider making party with a bunch of our friends! It is that time of year! Luckily, we have a great many apples from our home orchard this year. It is not the biggest harvest we have had. Two years ago, we had enough apples to make at least 40 gallons of cider! We also made applesauce, dried apples, froze sliced apples for pie, and gave many away to our local friends.
I fondly remember the night, two years ago, that my husband and I made cider. It was an early Friday in September, the night of the first home football game in our town. My husband set up the cider press outside of our barn. We could hear the game from our yard as we pressed the cider. Our boys were at school watching the game. Nightfall came, the barn lights turned on, and after only a few hours we had 40 gallons of cider! Did you know that it takes approximately one – five gallon bucket of apples to make one gallon of cider? It does! Maybe that is the reason cider can be kind of pricey!
Saturday was not as a productive night, but definitely fun! Our friends arrived in late afternoon. Earlier, my husband had picked and cleaned the apples. For the most part we used Haralson’s, Honey Gold, and Cortland’s. Those are a few of our varieties that produced well this year. We did not have too many of the coveted Honey Crisp – as they flowered during a cold spell and not many buds were pollinated. Still, our tradition of mixing the apple varieties produces a great tasting cider.
Our press is efficient, although somewhat “old-fashioned” looking. No, it does not have a motor. It has a hand crank. Everyone seemed to want to take a turn cranking. The crank turns the grinder. The teeth of the grinder are sharp, Sharp, SHARP. Every part of the apple is ground up = the peel, the stem, the core. It goes into a bucket. Once the bucket is filled, a “lid” is put on and the press is lowered. Again, this is done with a hand crank with lots of body mechanics and physics involved.
We are kind of nerdy and yes, we talked about the physics of it all. One of our guests even suggested using a board to get more leverage on the crank. My husband has used a board before, but we never had occasion to talk about it! We did get a two by four which helped to crank down the lid to compress the mash. I did not get any photos of that.
Our friends were amazed! The pressed cider flowed freely out into containers we had collected and cleaned. Yes, it is a lovely brown color right away! The mash is slightly odiferous and sure to interest a wild animal or two if it is not disposed of in a can.
After pressing the cider, we poured some to drink with our dinner of smoked chicken breasts, baked beans, salad, and grilled vegetables. We toasted to our first cider pressing party, good food, and good friends! Several hours later, each couple was sent home with a gallon of cider to enjoy! Our Saturday cider pressing party was a first but definitely will not be the last! Fun was had by all!