Apple Cider Pressing Party

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What:  Apple Cider Pressing

Where:  Our house

When: October 21, 2014

Why:  Because we like apple cider

Who:  Bruce and me, our oldest daughter, various friends we’ve met in Oregon

After much anticipation and preparation the day finally arrived for our 2nd annual cider pressing party!  Last year was the first, but the previous owners actually did all the work and we just showed up for the fun.  This year there was a long list of things to do to prepare for the party:

1.  We had to decide when to press the apples, according to when we thought they would be ripe

2.  Pick all the apples and store them in the garage

3.  Find enough boxes to hold all the apples

4.  Invite people to come and help

5.  Get out the press and make sure it is clean

6.  Clean many, many plastic, gallon jugs

7.  Figure out how to get the juice from the press into the jugs

8.  Make a nice meal for everyone to enjoy afterwards

We were a bit worried that the apples wouldn’t be any good or wouldn’t ripen, but they all came through for us.  The apples actually looked much, much better than we had hoped for.  There was some scabbing on the outside of some, but we didn’t see any coddling moth.  The Golden Delicious and Melrose ripened about 2 weeks earlier than the Granny Smiths and Winesaps.  We thought for awhile that we would only have a two variety cider, but with 4 types of apples the juice was delicious. 

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Golden Delicious apples in the garage;  Melrose, Winesap and Granny Smiths on the porch

There were 10 people altogether at the pressing, and everyone found a job to do–cleaning and mixing the apples, carrying them to the press, grinding them up, pressing them to get the juice, dumping the leftover pressed apples into the wheelbarrow, carrying the juice bucket over to the jugs, putting the juice into the jugs,  dumping  the wheelbarrow full of pressed apples out in the backyard for the deer to eat, and taking photos–Thank you Barbara for the great photos!

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        Washing and mixing the apple varieties;  The cider press;  The lined bucket under the grinder

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              Ground up apples ready for pressing;  Closing the top of the bag;  Bruce pressing the apples (2013)

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Cider flowing into the bucket;  Pouring the cider into the juicer;  From the juicer into the jugs

We came up with a neat plan for filling the jugs.  We got out our steam juicer and lined the top with cheesecloth, poured the juice into the juicer and used the tube to fill the jugs.  It worked great!

We ended up with about 35 gallon jugs of cider, and everyone took home as much as they wanted.  We had a nice lunch afterwards, with a lovely cider-raisin bread from Ed, delicious Kimchi, sauerkraut, and  fermented pickles  from Dave and Paulette, and yummy cheesecake bars from Barbara!  Thanks everyone for all your help and the great food!

For dessert, I brought out the caramelized cider sauce I made from last year’s cider.  I had boiled 2 gallons of cider until it was thick and dark amber colored.  It developed an intense sweet/sour apple flavor that is great on ice cream.

Bruce and I ended up with many gallons of cider.  I boiled three gallons and ended up with a very dark, caramelized sauce that will be good as a component in meat sauces.  I boiled up another 1 1/2 gallons and got a lighter colored sauce that didn’t thicken but is great on ice cream.  We also canned an apple cider glaze, apple cider marmalade with thyme (it’s like a grown-up version of applesauce)  and many quarts of  juice.  And after all that, I went downstairs to the basement and found many more boxes of apples.  Maybe I should make some apple pie fillings.

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Apple cider and caramelized cider sauce

As an extra bonus and because we have so much cider I decided to try a new recipe because it looked good and it was something I hadn’t ever tried before–caramels.  Only this recipe was for Apple Cider caramels!  It called for 4 cups of cider boiled down to 1/2 cup and since we already had that the recipe was easy to make.  I used the darker caramelized sauce that I thought was only good for meat dishes.  Boy, was I ever wrong!  We ended up making two batches.  The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of salt, which turned out to be too much for me.  The second time around we didn’t add any salt, but sprinkled some on top of the semi-hardened caramel.  That was much better.  And oh boy, they taste divine!  I put most of them in the freezer in hopes that they will last longer, but I think it won’t slow us down much.  I found the recipe here, http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/10/apple-cider-caramels-the-book-is-here/ ,on the Smitten Kitchen website.

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All in all, I’d say the Apple Cider Pressing Party was a success!

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3 thoughts on “Apple Cider Pressing Party

  1. Hooray! Another seasonal success story!

  2. Wow — so awesome!! Can’t believe all the great stuff you made (well, actually I can!). It all sounds wonderful, hope we can make it next year. Do save a caramel for me — you really need to set up a little (big?!) shop! Lovely photos…

    • Nancy, I wish I could send the caramels to you, but they are a bit soft. We didn’t eat too many–they are safely in the freezer. Bruce wants to try it again and boil them to a higher temp to get a firmer caramel. It’s worth trying. We do have a lot of preserved goods, most of which we won’t make next year, but there are a few keepers.

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