My friends received an apple cider press for a wedding present long ago. Last week, they threw an Apple Cider Press Party, and what a treat!
Have you ever tasted apple cider fresh from the press (your own or a local cider mill)? WOW! The cider has a pure, refreshing flavor that’s hard to beat.
Frankly, I was never crazy about apple cider before. However, I humbly revise my opinion. The difference between the taste of pasteurized, filtered grocery store cider and homemade cider is remarkable. With the cider press, we’re talking 30 seconds from press to glass.
For the uninitiated (formerly, yours truly), an apple cider press is a machine that essentially grinds up the apples into pulp and then presses the juices out.
In colonial days, it was common for farmers and families to own a barreled cider press (and in those days, the cider was often left to ferment and become an alcoholic “hard” cider). Today, I have a feeling that the old-fashioned cider press is becoming more popular again, perhaps because more people are planting fruit trees.
Here’s how the pressing process works:
- Start with a wheelbarrow of apple drops (fallen apples). You need a good amount of apples to make cider—about 5 times the volume apples to the volume of juice.
- The apples need to be as ripe as possible, but it’s fine to use less-than-perfect apples on the ground at any orchard or old apple farm. (Discard any rotten ones, though.) Blast the apples with a hose to wash them off.
- Now you need to press (smash) the apples. If you have a press, feed the apples into the hopper at the top of the press.
- Next, folks take turns turning the crank to grind the fruit into a pulp.
- As soon as enough apples are ground up, you turn the pressing plate down on the pulp to free up the juices, which trickle into a container below the press.
- Finally, just pour the sweet liquid into empty glasses or plastic jugs and drink. (Watch out for any drunken bees who ended up in the jug!)
*An optional step, especially if your apples are moldy, is to add a small amount of sulfite (¼ tsp potassium metabisulfite per 5 gallons) to the juice to kill off wild yeast; this kills mold, yeast, or bacteria that can spoil the juice. However, we drank our cider right away.
Add some cider donuts, and you’re in heaven.
What a fun time! Cider pressing is a great occasion for friends and family to get together on a fall day. The kids—of all ages—had a blast cranking the press. If you have the inclination, find (or make) a cider press and throw your own Autumn Harvest Party next year!
Anyone else a cider fan? Or, own a cider press? Or, just find this subject interesting? Please post a comment below.