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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.


  1. I visit your blog all the time, but I just noticed the title change...when did that happen? (I must be getting old...)

  2. About a week ago -- see? You didn't miss a thing! ^_^

  3. I am so intrigued with this. Excellent idea for crushing apples BTW, presses are outrageously expensive. Not that we have enough apples to make juice or anything else (got enough for a pie this first year of apple productivity).

    I just finished reading Kurt Timmermeister's Growing A Farmer and he boils down some of his juice to make syrup. Darned but I can't think of what it's called! Really gave me hope for syrupy sweetness someday, down here in the land of not sugar maples.

  4. I use the stuff in everything -- packing other fruit in canning, or as a bread or even soup ingredient, or for basting lamb or ham. Use it to top up a short carboy of grape or blackberry wine, or even of beer. If I am short a jar in a batch of any other preserves, I bust up an apple with the corer-slicer and throw the (whichever are worm-less) wedges into the batch, to whiz up before the cook-down.

    Does anyone near you have a loaner or share tree or trees, or are there any feral trees or an abandoned orchard, anywhere nearby, for the picking? Seems so worth the time to me; no one here is bothering with their trees but me, seems like. It is how I'm getting plums at the moment.

  5. Love your press! I lucked out and talked my step dad out of his uncles, which came from their farm in Iowa and was badly dried out and beginning to come apart out in pop's store room. I just never gave it back ;-) It holds maybe 2 gallons of fruit at a time and they used it for wine grapes (first generation Italian family) I have a Squeezo strainer I bought on ebay with all 3 screens, makes apple and tomato sauce making a breeze; An older one it needed new little nylon bushings, and a new rubber gasket, (still available from the maker) but everything else is metal, unlike some other brands. Came to me in it's original box, hardly ever been used. Paid way less than a new one, even with shipping.

    A few years ago my mom bought me several cases of jars and such at a yard sale. Included about 48 vintage glass lids, along with about 50 boxes of modern lids both regular and wide mouth. Some of the boxes date '77. They still seal correctly so I'm good for lids for a few years! European books and websites still give instructions for using clamp style jars and glass lids of various sorts.

  6. Great stuff, I'm not envious or anything. ^_^


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