When I was little, I remember visiting a friend of my father’s who had a cider press. While I was fascinated with the machine, I was suspicious of the final product which was dark and cloudy. After all, the cider that my parents usually bought was clear and yellow. Essentially apple juice, which was pasteurized, filtered and shelf-stable until it was opened.
We fitted the sink with a new garbage disposal. Originally, we’d thought that we’d “sweat” the apples on a platform at the farm, as recommended in some of the cider making resources we’d read. We also thought we’d do the pressing out at the farm. It turned out to be a much smarter idea to press cider at our house. We brought 11 bushels of apples home over the course of two weekends and sweat them on a tarp on the garage floor. Reliable clean running water is just about essential, given the need to wash the apples before coring and paring them and again before putting them in the crusher. Hauling buckets of water from our springhouse where the water may or may not be free of bacteria on any given day is just not sufficient. Those sanitation issues as well as the ability to refrigerate cider in short order, let alone to freeze things is just not a reality at the farm yet and I suspect we’ll not press cider at the farm until we have a decent house there with running water. With the generous help of some friends, cutting apples to get them ready for cider pressing, we pressed over 13 gallons of cider. We worked from around noon until 6 p.m. The cider is good, but it’s really sweet. We froze as much of it as we could. I’d still like to experiment with making pear cider and hard apple cider, though I don’t think we’ll have enough pears for years, nor will we get to making hard cider this year.