Thursday, March 19, 2015

Making Hard Cider

Cider making day arrives. The back of the ute is filled with seven boxes of apples, spare containers and our 30 litre barrel. We head down the road to a friend's house where all the equipment for apple juicing is set up. First we loosely chop the apples. The smaller the pieces the easier to crush. Some of the small apples from the roadside trees only need halving while the bigger Golden Delicious apples from our trees are halved and then each half quartered. Apparently the smaller roadside apples are excellent for cider as they are tarter and give a more distinct flavour.
Michelle chopping the apples and filling the 10 litre containers
Once we have two or three containers full then the fun starts. One person pedals while the other drops the chopped apples into the crusher. It stalls when there are too many apples but when they are cut small it is pretty quick and easy to operate and fill the bucket which is placed underneath the hopper.

The Crusher Blades

Pedal Power in Action
Once the bucket is full then some of its contents are poured into the press. This press has seen many seasons of use and the slats are getting a little worn. We opted for only part filling the press to reduce the pressure on the slats but with a newer press you could fill to the top. The press lid is placed in and the handle swung back up and secured in with the two black nuts on each side. The handle is turned round and round until the lid is attached and then the apples are slowly squeezed until the juice pours out of the bottom and into the plastic container on the ground. When the juice stops coming out we poured it through a sieve and then into the barrel.
The handle is then unwound to the top, the black nuts are undone so the handle can swing back, the lid is removed and the surprisingly dry apple pieces can be lifted off with the whole press and pushed out into a waiting box for taking back for the pigs' dinner. Then the process is repeated until more crushing or chopping is needed. 

The Press

We despatched five and a half boxes of apples to fill our barrel with juice. By the time we got home with the barrel wedged between legs in the passenger seat it was all ready for an air lock . It is now sitting in the kitchen filling the air with bubbling sounds and turning the juice into cider. Nothing has been added to make the cider - its just apple juice and time.

The 30 litres of apple juice ready to head back to Opportunity Farm

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