Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pressin' Cider 2012

Last year's exposure to fresh apple juice/cider was a real eye opener, I guess you could say.  So this year we were set on at least doubling the output, which we did.  In the end we pressed about 12 1/2 gallons of local, organically produced apple juice.  Woohoo!  I don't think I said that loud enough.  WOOOHOOO!

Figuring out how the motor was hung and in which direction it would turn.

Tossing apples into the crushing hopper.
As I mentioned last year our buddy Josh's parents own a cider press that belonged to Josh's grandfather.  It used to live in an apple orchard (I mean why haul all those apples somewhere else?) before Kenny (Josh's dad) brought it back to his house and started the work of getting it in working order again.  From the sounds of things many wood parts were reinforced and replaced with new wood.  The pressing barrels and mechanism is all original.  In the '50s the contraption was modified with a belt and washing machine motor so that the apple crushing is not done by manual hand crank.  The pressing of the pulped apples is still done manually.  Its a nice little hybrid.
The crusher is a spinning cylinder with little teeth that crush up the apples into little bits.

The little bits are spit out the bottom into a pressing bucket.  When this bucket gets full it is slid over under the pressing mechanism and an empty bucket put in its place.  These buckets have no bottoms so that the juice can freely run out.  The pressing forms the apple bits into a rather hard little cake so that it doesn't even fall out when you remove the bucket after pressing.  You have to knock it out.  We fed the apple remains to cows and yaks.  I'd never seen a real, live yak before.
Last year I didn't get to help with the apple pressing because we were in crunch time because of the Furthur Megavacation and general busyness of harvest and canning season at home.  This year I was able to come along and see all the fun first hand.  Actually, Kenny was pretty much set on me sitting under the shade of the covered porch, drinking wine, chatting and watching "the boys" do all the work.  I guess we were on supervision duty.  I did help though.  It looked too fun to let "the boys" do it all.  Josh's parents are awfully interesting and fun folks though so I kept moving back and forth between the sticky, amazing apple machine and the porch with its comfy chairs, fun parents, and mango salsa.
Josh cranking down the pressing mechanism, squeezing out that glorious nectar which is coming out the spigot at the bottom.

I like how happy Matt looks.  He really thinks this cider making is the bee's knees.
It didn't take long at all.  Maybe two hours.  It was an interesting and fun enough process that the time just flew by anyways.  Now all that is left for us is canning the juice into quart jars for the drinking and making of apple jelly (and hard cider, possibly).  After leaving a couple liters with Kenny and Mary, and Josh taking a few gallons, and drinking quite a bit straight away, we ended up with about 8 gallons to bottle, ferment, and jelly exactly twice as much as we got last year.  Superb.
Josh taking a sample from the first pressing.
I don't know if this will work or not, but Josh took a pretty good video of the apple press in action.  Its on his facebook page though and I don't know what sort of security settings he uses.  I'll give it a go though, just on the chance it will work.

I'll say it again. Thank goodness for free food.

2 comments:

  1. What a cool machine!! I miss old machines like that. My grandfather was the best at "hybridizing" the old with the new (like adding the belt and washing machine motor.) I miss that about him.

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    Replies
    1. I think its a real loss to our culture and society that people like your grandfather aren't commonplace anymore. The ingenuity and makedoitiveness is so impressive.

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