1 This season's apple trees have been producing tons of fruit, so I decided it was time to take out the press and make some apple cider.
2 Pete unwrapped the machine, which was thoroughly cleaned a few days earlier. Every year I set up my cider press outside my flower room. It's become almost a tradition, but it's important to make sure the machine is on a flat, solid surface.
3 A manual press, such as this one, consists of a hand-crank grinder often affixed to a basket press. The grinder, pressing screw, and flywheel crank are all made of cast iron.
4 There are many different types of cider presses. Mine is from Happy Valley Ranch in Paola, Kansas. I purchased it about five years ago. http://www.happyvalleyranch.com/
5 This is a double-tub cider mill and wine press called American Harvester. One tub catches the apple pulp and the other is used for pressing. This makes it easy to grind and press at the same time.
6 The tub where the apples fall after going through the grinder is called the hopper.
7 Pete gave the apparatus a quick rinse.
8 These wooden slatted panels catch the apple pulp that doesn't land in the collection buckets.
9 The apples don't have to look pristine, but they need to be free from spoilage, which would cause the juice to ferment too rapidly. They should also be well-washed, so they're ready to go through the press.
10 We had quite an abundance of apples to press, too.
11 Once all the equipment was set-up, the apples were placed into this rotating cylinder. The embedded teeth grind up the apples as they are fed into it.
12 If you look closely, you can see the small blades - they are very sharp.
13 The rotating cylinder works very quickly to chop up the non-stone fruits...
14 ... that is, as long as the "cranker" keeps the process moving.
15 It's an enjoyable task, but does require group effort - while one feeds the apples into the grinder...
16 ... the other cranks. Since I was away traveling, in my absence, my executive administrator, Susan Carmichael, helped to make the cider. This was Susan's first time pressing apples.
17 The grinds fall out into the mesh covered container - the apples were so finely chopped.
18 Once the tub was filled with apple pulp - skins, seeds and cores - the pressing process began.
19 The basket press relies on a large screw to add pressure to the crushed apples, or pomace, that are in the basket.
20 The screw pushes down on this press plate that is placed on top of the chopped apples.
21 Pete turned the screw clockwise to lower it into the tub. It takes some good strength to turn the screw efficiently. The two by four piece of wood helped Pete add more torque.
22 The screw was tightened and lowered incrementally as the juice was extracted.
23 As the apples were compressed, juice flowed out of the sides, through a downspout, and into a collection vessel below.
24 Pure, delicious cider - it takes about 30 to 40 pounds of apples to make about a gallon of cider.
25 I love the rich, amber color. To pasteurize, heat the cider to 160-degrees for about 6 to 8 seconds. After pasteurization, cider can be frozen for longer storage.
26 After all the juice from the fruit was extracted, the screw was turned counter clockwise to raise it, and the pressing plate was removed.
27 All the compressed apple pulp was then emptied into a bin. The scraps were set aside for the chickens.
28 And, the process began again.
29 Phurba carried more crates of apples to the press.
30 And, there were many more where that came from...
31 Laura came by to check on production - even my Chow Chow puppy, Peluche, was very curious.
32 More apples were tossed into the grinding cylinder.
33 More fresh apple pulp was made.
34 More cider flowed through the press.
35 The froth should be removed before pouring the cider into glass jars. Do you know the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Juice has already been filtered to remove any solids or sediment, and then pasteurized to extend its freshness. Fresh cider is purely raw juice from the apples.
36 And, down at the chicken coops, it was an early apple fest for my flock. Their troughs were filled with apple scraps - they love pecking at them.
37 They quickly gathered for the feast. It's so nice to see happy, healthy chickens.
38 It wasn't long before my two Pomeranian guard geese began making noise and sounding their alarms that something was going on.
39 But, they just wanted to be included, so they could share the apple scraps, too.