I guess that I have been writing this blog for a while now, as Ciderfest has returned. Those of you that read this regularly will remember the last Ciderfest from a couple years ago. It seems that our apple trees only bear a lot of fruit every couple years. I’ve heard some folks say that some apple trees are biannual, meaning that they only bear apples every two years. Ours seem to vary, but I think that it may have more to do with the weather. Anyway this year we’ve got a ton of apples and they just screamed to be cidered.
You might think that the first thing to do would be to pick the apples, but you’d be wrong. It’s all the heavy lifting required to get out the picnic tables, fireplace and the apple press. This used to be easy but as my friends and I have gotten older (It’s not the age baby, it’s the mileage) It’s been getting harder and harder to do. It’s a good thing that a couple of our sons were able to make it to help out.
Once all the stuff has been moved, then it’s time to pick the apples. The low hanging fruit just goes into a bucket, but the ones higher on the tree are the job of the apple picker. While we have new ones at the hardware store, mine is an antique with a bamboo handle. It still works good though, you just hook the teeth over the apple and pull until it comes loose. You can pick several before you have to bring it back to earth and empty it into a collecting bucket. Then we wash and sort them and into the press they go.
The press is a hand cranked affair and it has two stages. First the apples are shredded by a couple of rollers with teeth on them, then they go through two pressing rolls to smash them. This really takes some stamina, and once again it was a good thing that we had lots of help. (I’ve just got to put a motor on that thing) Once you have shredded and squeezed a basket of them, they get moved under the big pressing screw to extract the cider. Everything that drips out is collected in a big stainless steel kettle and served right into your cup.
Guests brought side dishes to snack on. And Mary Anne made two kinds of chili to go with the hot dogs that we cooked on the fire. Everything was great, and once again thanks for all the help. See you again in a couple years, or maybe sooner, at the Old Hardware Store…