Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Cider

Many local people spent their weekend at the California International Airshow. Not us. Always wanting to learn something new, we offered to 'help' a new friend make apple cider. Thankfully, we actually DID help. I am thrilled that we didn't just get in the way.

So here's what we did:

We went to the Cloud Forest in Santa Cruz, a location where 800 varieties of apple trees are grown. Because this is literally a backyard FILLED WITH TREES, there aren't 800 trees, but between 8-10 different varieties grafted to about 90 trees. The trees are pretty tightly planted - a hobby gone crazy. I get that though. Just ask me about my fiber collection or the number of tomato seeds we have at the farm!

First we picked up the drops - we made sure they weren't too bruised or bug eaten. Just because they are on the ground doesn't mean they should be discounted. Then we went out with Axel to pick from trees. He knew which varieties to pick and where they were located.

After apples were collected, they were washed and loaded into the chipper... ummm chopper. Whole apples go in and are chopped up to get the most juice out of the harvest.

From the chopper, the mash goes into the strainer. This strainer is bladder powered - the bladder is pressurized with water, inflates and squishes out the juice. Look at all that juice!

We deflate the bladder, clean out the strainer of pulp and do it all over again: Chop, load, strain, clean, repeat. At the end of our day we had made about 25 gallons of juice. Axel has a fancy oil sealed container that pasteurizes the juice and keeps it fresh for a long time. We managed to fill it! Woot!

So what did we learn? Juicing a variety of apples makes the best flavor, with cider apples adding a tannin that gives the juice a good mouth-feel finish. Mechanized implements save your back and save time. Juicing is a messy, sticky, wonderful process. Good things take time. Do what you love. Grow what you love. Networking happens in the most unlikely circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. hey.. we know Axel... what a fantastic setting filled with gorgeous plants. We placed a couple kitties with him!
    Last I heard, only one had stuck around and the "guaranteed" hunter didn't. :(
    Any new news about his gopher getters?