I have been on the east coast visiting family this week. On Friday I had the opportunity to make fresh apple cider with a wooden cider press. The house I grew up in has a couple very old apple trees scattered throughout the yard. Growing up I never ate the apples because they didn’t look like the apples we bought at the store. Now the apples are the most desirable apples because the are organic, local and free! You never know exactly where the produce you buy at the grocery store comes from or how it was grown or if pesticides were nearby even if it is organic. Buying from the source is obviously ideal but it’s hard to do with the time it takes to get to the farmers market or farm stand. I felt incredibly lucky to find apples right in the yard I grew up in.
It is very rare these days to do something the old fashioned, traditional way. The cider press is something you could build with just wood and screws. It is a lot of work to make cider with a wooden cider press but definitely worth it, AND it’s a great work out!
We started by collecting the fallen apples around the tree. I was skeptical at first because they were bruised from falling and had holes and ants on them. My dad assured me that all apples were good enough and that we would cut off the dirty, bruised spots and they would be good as new! He was right, as was Joni Mitchell. Next we picked the ripest apples from the trees.
After we had a big bucket full of Apples we brought them back to the house, washed them and cut off the “bad spots”. We cut them into smaller pieces into the grinder. You churn the apples in the grinder which is basically just a cylinder with screws poking out. After they go through the grinder you place them in the bucket and press them with a large flat piece of wood that you have to turn manually. It is really hard. It looked a lot easier than it was. I got a great arm work out and had to sub out quite a few times 😉 Juice slowly trickled out. It was a lot less juice than you would expect from all those apples which really makes you think about what goes into a big jug of apple cider. We added concord grapes after the churning and before the pressing for some extra juice and flavor and because the vine was right there! After we got all the juice we could from the apples we strained it and enjoyed it with a cinnamon sugar rim.
It tasted SO much better than cider from the store it is much less sweet, more fresh and you appreciate it so much more when you put in all the work it takes to get the reward of the reward of the delicious cider!
Obviously not everyone has an apple tree and a cider press but try a small window herb garden and cooking with the herbs you grow or just getting all your ingredients from a farmers market and cooking a meal with what’s available and in season, it will taste better and be an extremely rewarding experience.