Farmer Dave had picked all the apples he wanted for winter. He told my friend Terry that he could have the rest for cider. I agreed to help. I had never made apple cider before and was willing to learn. We started by picking apples. I love the clawed basket tool that allowed us to reach the tops of the trees without a ladder. Who comes up with these clever ideas?
We had no idea how many to pick… how many apples does it take to make a gallon of cider? We wanted to make apple sauce, too, so just keep picking… We didn’t fill the wagon. What would you say this looks like? A couple of bushels maybe? Perhaps a little more?
We hauled the equipment out of the barn and got it cleaned up and ready to go. Already, the bees were buzzing around the wagon. Dave had warned us that they would really start coming when we began pulverizing the apples.
I’m not sure what this piece of equipment is called. One of the websites I found referred to it as a “scratcher” and the name was in quotes. Maybe there is a more official name? You put apples in the hopper on top and turn the crank. The apples are crushed and drop into a 5 gallon bucket underneath.
The crushed apple mash is transferred to a burlap sack and placed in this bucket-shaped frame. A block of wood on top of the burlap sack allows us to press the sack, squeezing the juice out of the mash. This juice is filtered through several layers of cheesecloth and then bottled. (I forgot to take a picture of our filtering system… but basically , it was a stainless steel colander of sorts that we lined with cheesecloth and placed over a stainless steel milking bucket.)
I think we figured it took about a 5 gallon bucket of mash to make 1 gallon of cider. We never did figure out how many apples it took to make the 5 gallon bucket of mash, though. Maybe we’ll figure that out next year?
By the way… Dave wasn’t joking about the bees. They were everywhere, making me just a little nervous. They seemed to have no interest in us, though… just wanted the apples and juice!
We had glasses of fresh cider with lunch. Terry will probably drink the rest of his cider over the next few days. I put the rest of mine in the freezer to pull out for Thanksgiving dinner. We saved out some of the rounder apples to make applesauce. I’ll serve that on Thanksgiving, too.
Pam (Nature Woman) remembers making cider with her family as a kid. Read about it here. What do you think, Pam? Is this pretty much the same process you remember? Do you have any tips for us for next year?
Many thanks to Dave who gave us the apples and taught us how to make cider. You can visit Dave and stay at his Country House Bed and Breakfast! Click here to learn more.