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. Approximately 30 to 40 apples will yield one gallon of cider.
- The apples need to be as ripe as possible. It’s fine to use less-than-perfect apples on the ground at any orchard or old apple farm. Discard any rotten ones, though. Spoiled apples cause the juice to ferment too rapidly.
- Blast the apples with a hose to wash them off.
- Now you need to grind up the apples. Some presses come up a grinder. Feed the apples into the hopper. Turn a cast iron wheel to grind the apples. The wheel is attached to the grinding shaft which quickly and easily chops up the apples.
- The apples fall into the tub below. A big press screw is flowered onto a wooden pressing plate.
- Turn the pressing plate down on the pulp to free up the apple juices which flow into a container below the press.
- Once all the juices are pressed out, empty the leftover pulp into a bin. Then, grind up more apples and press again!
- The juice quickly oxidizes into a rich amber color. Some apple “froth” forms on the top which can be skimmed off.
- Finally, pour the cider into jugs and drink! Amazing sweet, fresh as a whistle, and crazy delicious! (Watch out for any drunken bees who ended up in the jug!)
* If you are concerned about pasteurization before drinking, just heat the cider to 160-degrees for about 6 to 8 seconds. After pasteurization, cider can be frozen for longer storage.
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? Have any questions or comments? Just post below.