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pressing matters

Last winter Leah and her parents gave me a cider press for Hanukkah. Super exciting, but naturally I had to wait quite a while to use it. A little over a week ago we brought it along to a Backyard Farm Club grape harvest and pressing date, where it performed nobly; perfect for a warm-up. Then yesterday we put it to its true purpose for the first time.

Zion cutting up apples at the kitchen table, Elijah turning the press behind him

cider time

Despite the drought our apple trees are doing quite well this year... or at least, they're producing lots of apples. Most of them are pretty small, and lots of them were knocked off by last Friday's storm (not to mention all the other things that are constantly knocking down apples). Plenty of the drops are fine to eat, but we have so many—including plenty with cuts and bruises that started attracting fruit flies as soon as we brought them inside—that we pretty much had to do something drastic with them. Like make cider!

One slight problem is that we don't have an apple grinder. My generous gift-givers didn't realize that cider making is actually a two-stage process: first you need to crush the apples before you can press them, or else no juice will actually come out. Instead, we used the food processor (after first coring and slicing the apples and cutting out the bruises and worms). We did five and a half Cuisinart bowls full, which we estimate was maybe 40 apples (but we're not really sure). Some hard work on the crank of the press netted us just over a quart of cider.

I don't know if that's any good; internet research suggests that many apples could produce a gallon, but I don't know how much the small size and dryness of our droughty apples contributed to our reduced total, as opposed to the unsuitability of the food processor for its part of the job. It it worth it to buy a grinder? The cheapest ones are close to $150 on Amazon, with ad copy that suggests they're designed and constructed by people for whom English is not their first language ("Enjoy the nature,how happy they are smiling!"). But then again, speaking English shouldn't in any way be a requirement from making great cider! So maybe we'll try to pick one up before we press again. Though I don't know how soon that'll be: I'm starting to hear requests for apple pies...

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