September 27, 2013
Get Out The Cider Press!
With the apple harvest upon us, I decided to get the apple press out and have Carlos and Pete make cider to serve at a party that I’m hosting this Saturday. I purchased my apple press a few years ago from a manufacturer in Paola, Kansas called Happy Valley. It’s a double-tub cider mill and wine press called American Harvester. I love its old-fashioned design and there’s something so gratifyingly simple about the whole process of cider making.
Some cider basics: Approximately 30 to 40 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. If you are concerned about pasteurization before drinking, simply heat the cider to 160-degrees for about 6 to 8 seconds. After pasteurization, cider can be frozen for longer storage.
1 Carlos and Pete set up the apple press on a flat, solid surface.
2 In the grinder, the apples meet up with eight serrated stainless steel knives.
3 As those knives chop, the apples disappear quickly.
4 The chopped up apples fall into the mesh-lined tub below.
5 The knives do a fantastic job of chopping.
6 When the chopped up tub was full, it was swapped out with the empty tub and slid below the press.
7 The empty tub was then placed below the grinder.
8 And the grinding continued. This process is made fast and easy by cranking the cast iron flywheel, which is attached to the grinding shaft.
9 These are the chopped up apples positioned below the press.
10 Pete placed the wooden pressing plate on top of the chopped apples.
11 The press screw was turned.
12 And the press foot was lowered onto the pressing plate.
13 As Carlos kept chopping, Pete used a 2 x4 to provide more torque for the pressing process.
14 As pressure was applied, pure apple juice began to flow.
15 It's amazing how quickly the juice oxidizes into a rich amber brown color.
16 When the pressing was complete, the screw was reversed and the pressing disk removed.
17 All that squeezed pulp was emptied into a bin and the mesh-lined tub was filled and pressed again.
18 The pulp could be composted, but my chickens love pecking at it.
19 When the bucket collecting the cider was full, the little down spout was pulled up to stop the flow.
20 The full bucket was removed and an empty one put in place.
21 The apple "froth" was skimmed off the top.
22 And the cider was decanted into storage containers.
23 Sweet, delicious, and fragrant fresh apple cider!
24 The containers were covered and placed in the refrigerator to serve to guests at Saturday's party.
25 Fernando took the scraps to the chickens and filled their food troughs.
26 The chickens were quite thrilled!
27 Another trough