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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Apple Cider

Perhaps it is fitting that while my last post (not counting the one by my guest poster) was about cherries, this one is about apples. Our rental house comes with a large orchard of about 15 trees, 6 (or seven?) of which are apple trees. Last year we ate plenty, but the huge rush of ripe apples came when the kids were in the throes of starting school and the combination of that and the lack of a good way to preserve them meant that most of the apples fell to the ground and became yellow jacket and birdie food.

I especially liked to think about the well fed birdies -- it kept me from feeling guilty about not using the apples.

But this year! This year we determined to make use of the communal pressoir - the village cider press. It's something I find absolutely charming, that the community organizes a cider press in the autumn and that you have to call the town hall to make your appointment. More specifically, you call the town hall on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9 and 10 a.m. It also tells you something about how many apple trees are in the fields and backyards here.

I wish I'd thought to take a photo of all these crates and bins full of apples and crammed into the back of our Mazda! When I called for my appointment and explained that I'd never done this before and how many apples would I need anyway? the nice man told me that 100 kilos of apples would be ideal and would produce 60-70 liters of juice.  I wasn't quite sure how many crates 100 kilos would be, but when I left I was sure we had more than that.

Last Thursday evening was our appointment. We drove them down to the community building next to the bank where a lot of people were milling about. It was hard to tell who was or wasn't in charge. There was one truck with a trailer full of apples and I felt slightly silly with mine all packed into the car with the seats down -- like a real amateur. But then I saw that there was also a very bent old lady who was frail-ly loading up her finished cider into her car with the help of her children.

We loaded our apples into this VERY LOUD room and dumped them into the hopper on the left. HORRIBLE chomping noises came from the machine as it schlurped up the apples and squished them to a pulp. The boys were fascinated. Then it rolled the squished apples on the squishing bands and out squeezed the cider. The hose in the middle of the photo sucked up the fresh juice and pumped it over to...

A big blue barrel marked for us!! The nice cider pressing man gave us little cups of the fresh juice -- mmm, good!!

 After a waiting interval, our juice was pumped by hose into the next room where the apparatus for pasturization is set up. A bunch of guys were working non-stop to fill bottle after bottle and carton after carton. We had ours put into cartons and then there were 20 liters left over that we took home to drink fresh in the next couple days. We also shared with friends and neighbors as 20 liters is a lot of fresh cider to drink in 3 days. It was delicious!

 The next morning I had the kids unload the car and stack up our wares. We had 25 cartons of 5 liters each! 125 liters of juice ~ that might last us through the winter!

Since the total amount of liters (before pasturization) was 160 liters, and since we are curious about exactly how many apples I lugged down to the car (with the help of the workers, of course), we can use what the appointment man told us in the following equation:

               60 liters                    =                              160 liters
          100 kilos of apples                       Number of kilos of apples we picked

I tried to get people interested in this equation as in "Real Life Homeschool Math" but no one fell for it and I ended up doing it myself. We picked 267 kilos of apples!! Gracious! And translating to kilos by multiplying by 2.2 we discover that that is 586 pounds.

 Yummy delicous fresh pressed organic apple cider. Wish you could come by and share some!!


  1. That is so cool! I want a village cider press!

  2. Of course we could use the one in Dad's garage, but the McGivoring that it requires each year is beyond my ken.

  3. Kristin says- Love it! Fresh cider is an amazing nectar. You immediately feel healthier after drinking it! Our process is a bit more labor intensive. We have 12 trees, and the apples must all be washed and sanitized before pressing. We have a 100 year old press, hand cranked, that gives my teen boys a real workout. Then we pour directly into jugs and freeze. The hardest part is keeping everything, all parts of the press, the table, the jugs, buckets...sanitized while we work because we do not have a pasteurization machine. But all the hard work really does pay off. <3

  4. That's half a TON of apples you lugged. Wow! This is really very cool. Thanks for telling us the story, complete with photos. Most excellent. Love to you. xoxoxo