October 7, 2011
It's Cider Making Time at the Farm!
You may recall last October when I first blogged about making apple cider. Last year’s apple harvest was unbelievable and to take advantage of so much abundance, we scrambled to find an apple press. We located a manufacturer in Paola, Kansas called Happy Valley and they shipped us a double-tub cider mill and wine press called American Harvester. This year’s apple crop is also amazing, although the fruit is on the small side, for some reason. Still, the fresh-squeezed cider from fresh-picked apples is quite delicious!
1 There are many different varieties of apples growing at my farm. Some of them I use for simply eating, like these scrumptious Gravenstein. Others are better suited for baking and for making applesauce.
2 The abundant apple crop also means it's time to make apple cider! Blending different types of apples makes for a rich and sweet tasting beverage.
3 I first started making cider last autumn when I purchased this cider press from Happy Valley Ranch. In addition to cider, it can also be used to press juice from grapes and from other non-stone fruits.
4 Sanu and Gyurme cleaned and prepped all parts of the press. You can see the crates of washed apples stacked, waiting to be pressed.
5 The next day, Carlos and Gyurme got busy with the task.
6 About sixteen pounds of apples will yield one gallon of cider. The apples you use needn’t be flawless, but they should be free of spoilage, which would cause the juice to ferment too rapidly.
7 The apples are placed, whole, into the apple eater grinder, where they meet up with eight serrated stainless steel knives.
8 This process is made fast and easy by cranking the cast iron flywheel, which is attached to the grinding shaft.
9 This apple press features two tubs - one to catch the apple pulp and the other for pressing, allowing both the grinding and squeezing to take place at the same time.
10 The chopped up apples fall into the mesh-lined tub below. Once that one is full, it's swapped out with the empty tub and placed below the press.
11 A clean pail is positioned beneath the press.
12 To make turning the pressing screw easier, Gyurme used a two-by-four. As the press is lowered, it squeezes out the juice from the apple pulp.
13 As pressure is applied, pure apple juice begins to flow. It's amazing how quickly the juice oxidizes into a rich amber brown color.
14 The reason apple cider is thicker and darker than apple juice is because it isn't filtered, as juice is.
15 This cider is ready for the drinking, although some people like to pasteurize it first by simply heating the liquid to 160 degrees F for about 6 to 8 seconds.
16 When the pressing is complete, the screw is reversed and the pressing disk removed.
17 The squeezed out apple pulp is revealed.
18 All that squeezed pulp is emptied into a bin and the mesh-lined tub is filled and pressed again.
19 The pulp could be composted, but my chickens love pecking at it.
20 In very little time, eight gallons and counting!