On Saturday morning I got up at 5AM and started getting ready for the cider pressing at 1PM. By 8:30 I was ready to start chopping all the drops I had collected and washed. I chopped until 11AM when my son and I went out to get the cider press from the barn.
The hayman had called on Friday to say he’d be out to cut before noon.
This was our second cutting. This is the front pasture.
This is the middle pasture, the one we cut a swath out of for the tent.
There hadn’t been enough to do a second cutting the end of July. It took him about 2 hours to cut all 3 pastures. He started at 10AM.
We got the press into the truck and up to the house. It had been wrapped well last time we used it and wasn’t as dirty as I thought it might be. My son pressure washed it and I sprayed it well with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.
We bought this new at an estate sale about 20 years ago for $50. This will be the 3rd time we’ve used it.
Once that was done, I went back to chopping apples. By 1:30 I’d filled 5 huge stainless steel bowls with apples and put 3 in the fridge. People started to show up about then, so we started grinding apples.
My “grandchild” Hazel and her mom and dad grinding
I was never involved in the press part before, my husband did that. I was the washer and chopper. So we had to figure out all the intricacies of using the press without his guidance.
The band would not hold the cloth in place once we started to press. We figured out if we got it down under the metal band it would stay on through a pressing. We’d have to put it down under the band once the tub was emptied each time.
We used olive oil to make the press screw easier and after about 5 uses, it would spin freely.
Megan knew that if you kept the grinder going at a quick speed, it was easier to grind the apples. On the first grinding, I figured out there were 2 grinding sizes, depending on which way you turned the crank. We used the finer one.
I was the one putting the apples into the press usually.
I look a little grumpy here, but I was about 10 hours into this and mighty tired.
The apples didn’t produce anywhere near as much juice as expected. We’d get about 1 quart per pressing. The first time we did this in 2015 we’d get gallons.
Hazel and her dad pressing
Marianna filtering and bottling
I didn’t get enough cider to send some home with everyone, but everyone got to sample the cider. The apples were mostly McIntosh.
We ended up with 3 of these totes and a 6 gallon bucket of waste.
People worked on getting most of the apples off the tree. I had borrowed a neighbor’s fruit picker and that worked really well. We did have to get out the 6’ step ladder. There were about 3 dozen small apples left on the tree and a few at the very top we couldn’t reach.
Marianna had brought her grandmother’s apron to wear. Her hand is next to the bottle of preserved mothers from past pressings for vinegar.
I had some nice large mothers, enough for one for each jar. I got 4¼ gallons of cider for vinegar, plus what everyone drank. One woman had brought a shopping bag of ripe green apples and those were added in.
Tom and family were here and helped a lot. Megan’s family was here, and her friend. Marianna worked every station I think. People took turns chopping apples and grinding and pressing. Tom’s Phoebe was a huge help with grinding and pressing. Tom’s Wiley turned out to be the best chopper, fast and small pieces that ground easily. Tom got the last of the apples off the tree.
In the past, I had scoured the butchershop and we’d worked in there, as the old kitchen was far too small. That kept the flies and yellow jackets away. This time we did the prep and finish work inside but ground outside. I think next time, I will see if we can get the press inside.
We only had 1 bee bite, Tom’s wife Kelly at the very end. But there were a LOT of yellow jackets by the end.
So I’ve enough vinegar for a couple years, and hopefully the tree will produce again by then. It’s being properly pruned now, so I hope production will go up. I hope to feed it this autumn, sometime in the next couple weeks.
Sunday will be spent cleaning up the mess and trying to rest some.