Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cider Pressing

As I mentioned in my last post, this fall Whitney and I got to take part in my Dad's Apple Cider Pressing Party at the GHJ Tree Farm. It was a beautiful day with friends, family and lots and lots of apples!

Rome Beauty apple

Apple cider has a long history in America and in Europe before that. Often clean water was hard to come by, so apple cider was the common drink. Before beer, hard apple cider was the main alcohol for the common people. In fact according to at least one book that comes to mind (The Botany of Desire) eating apples like the phrase "eat it like an apple" is a fairly new concept, as before that apples were nearly entirely grown for cider. The truth is that Johnny Apple seed was not a health nut apple eater, but much more interested in hard cider! Of course nowadays we know apples are a healthy food and often cider takes a backseat, but the making of cider is still a tradition across the country. Pressing cider is one of the family traditions my Grandfather passed down along with growing Christmas trees and bee keeping. Here is a look at how it's done where I come from.
First off, the apples must be picked. Sometimes you have to get a little creative especially when picking the taller trees! This year on the GHJ Tree Farm, my Dad estimated he picked around 1000 pounds of apples to sell, donate and crush into cider.
After the picking, the apples are sorted (saleable apples are not crushed) and washed. Since all the apples are completely chemical free, the washing is just to get the dust off. Then comes the cutting.  

Each apple is quartered and any bad spots removed, before being ground into pulp. The pulp is loaded into the press, and compressed.

Pressing apples in my Grandfather's press.
The juice is filtered, and then poured into jars for the helpers to enjoy and take home.

Fresh Apple Cider
Since the emphasis is place on enjoying the whole process, most of the cider is consumed during the course of the day and we have no good idea how much is made. But one thing I know is everybody got at least a taste and most got to take a few jars home. I think we were guessing we crushed 16, 40lb boxes of apples, so there was plenty of cider to go around. Thanks to everybody that came out and helped make it such a fun event!   So that in a nut shell is cider pressing, if you get a chance sometime give it a try. The taste of fresh cider is beyond delicious.

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