Monday, November 9, 2009

Sippin' cider

Today was a good day. Late in the morning we gathered the troops and piled into the car, heading south along the lake road to my friend's house to pick more apples. We picked about three bushels worth of dimpled, less-than-perfect fruit and then headed back north along the lake road to Big Stone Apple Ranch, the sole remaining apple orchard in operation along Big Stone Lake.

When we moved here eleven years ago, there were three orchards on the lake. One orchard became neglected over time and eventually closed a few years ago. Another orchard owner decided to mow down all his beautiful apple trees and turn his land into an RV resort. So, now there's just one orchard left. And the owner is a wonderful lady who gave two hours of her time this afternoon (and two free bushels of apples) to help us press cider.

Here's Bette, the orchard owner, showing us the ins and outs of the cider press. My boys are staring at the lovely cider coming out of the spout below.

I am holding a electrical drill-like turner-thing (official lingo) that is hooked up to the apple chopper-upper (more lingo). The boys are feeding apples into the chopper, which spits the pieces into a wooden bucket below. The bucket is lined with a heavy-duty mesh cloth bag.

Here is the chopper-upper thing. It makes quick work of whole apples.

After the wooden bucket gets full, the lid is put over top and the screw press gets turned. The boys all wanted to help turn the press.

Graham couldn't quite turn the crank all the way around.

Look at the beautiful cider pouring out. My youngest said at one point, 'it's peeing apple juice.' Undetered by the imagery, we all dipped in a cup to get a taste of freshly pressed cider, right from the press. The scent alone was heavenly. The taste was beyond heavenly.

From five bushels of apples we got about twelve gallons of cider. We poured most of it into jugs and bags and put it into the freezer. We put a pitcher of cider in our fridge, but it's being drunk so quickly I doubt it will last til morning. Even as I write, I am sitting at the computer desk with a mug of cider at my side.

Actually, it is empty. I'd better stop writing and go get myself some more.


Erin said...

I can smell it from here! The boys look like they are having a blast! My husband saw a youTube video a while back with a couple of guys from MN that looked to have had way too much hard cider to drink, and they proceeded to explain and show how to build your own cider press... needless to say my husband now wants to do just that! It was hard to break it to him that one would need actual apple orchards to have any fun with this LOL (we are too far south to have apple orchards) - he has finally put this on the back burner for when we move up north lol

Mama Pea said...

I was right with Erin being able to imagine the heavenly smell of the operation. Reminds me of when we've made apple cider in the past.

Thanks for taking us on the tour with you.

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Good to know that I know someone who knows how to do this sort of thing. Once our apple trees start producing I may have to have you show me all the tips and tricks.

Also I once found a sight that claimed you could use a new clean garbage disposal to chop the apples

Jo said...

Garbage disposal -- sounds intriguing. I actually have one of those in a box in my basement.

I did a search for the cider press we used. Here it is:

It sells for $659. Guess I'll continue to borrow the one at the orchard...