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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's a mood thing.

A five gallon carboy of cider needs about eight buckets of apples, seems like. Since they're going to be crushed, I don't have to be careful about bruises. Except maybe my own -- I did fall into the dry wash yesterday, which was lined with blackberry vines and stones. Never a dull moment.

I admit this little electric shredder is my crusher. In general, I would not advise imitating me on this or any other aspect of my apple doings. In my defense I can say a) it's dedicated to this, is not used for tree branches, leaves, poison oak, etc., b) I'm not making this stuff to sell, so it's not like there's going to be a health inspection and c) yes, everything's been washed.

I chop the apples in half and throw them in the hopper. Pour in some blackberries, too, for revenge. When the receiving bucket is full, I transfer the contents to the squeezing bucket, which goes into the press.

This (ahem) press consists of four blocks of six-by-eight strapped together with angle irons, a wheel, an automotive jack, a trimmed-down bucket lid, an inverted one gallon bucket between the jack and the bucket lid which is inside the six-gallon squeezing bucket. There are about thirty holes drilled in the squeezing bucket, all down one side. Maybe 3/8" diameter. Most of the juice that is separated from the pulp will go up past the lid, not down, and will pour out the top three or four holes or so. So, a haphazard press, but it squeezes, and didn't cost six to eight hundred bucks.

All this drains into a plastic tub placed strategically near the table. The cider will be dipped and strained into the carboy through a funnel. There is a lot of adjusting and fooling around going on here, I'm sweaty, and there are a LOT of yellow jackets to avoid putting my hand on. I pour myself a glass of fresh AJ and sit in the shade awhile.

Off to the potting shed with about 4.75 gal. of cider. I've added a bit of wine yeast and will cap the carboy with an airlock. If it makes cider, nice. If I've goofed and made vinegar, that's nice too. Lots of uses for the stuff.

There are four carboys on hand and some gallon jugs. It takes much of a day to do this alone on this scale, mostly because of the clean-up, so I plan on once a week during the picking season. We'll see what apple, apple/blackberry, apple/grape, apple/blackberry grape, blackberry/grape, grape, and blackberry concoctions we can come up with.

Not all of this will be wines, mind you. Sometimes I just can up a batch of juice in mason jars in the canner. It's a mood thing.


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