Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making Apple Cider at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Fixit and I headed out early this morning, right after putting Bug on the bus, and went on a field trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We were heading over there to help with apple cider.  We had to try out Grandpa's new setup for grinding the apples to get more cider out squeezed from the apples.

Dad's slick new set-up for grinding the apples
Dad bought a brand new garbage disposal, which he installed in a board along with an electrical on/off switch.  Mom and I washed and quartered the apples.  Then, Dad and I took turns manning the disposal and shoving apples through with the push stick.  The apples get ground up and then exit the disposal through the white hose into the bucket.

It really turned the apples into smoosh, but it took quite a bit of work for the disposal to chop through the big apples.  Next time we do more apples, we're going to run the apples through Dad's original apple chopper for his cider press, then we're going to run them through the disposal.  It shoudl be a lot quicker, even though we're adding a step.

Dad called to tell me that he was tired.  Fixit and I were there for 3 hours this morning, and I was tired, too.
Mom getting ready to wash some apples so we can quarter them

The hydraulic press to squeeze the cider from the apple mash
 After the disposal turned the apples into itty-bitty little pieces, we put the mash into clean muslin squares in the pressing rack.  We put in three saucepans full into the piece of muslin, then folded it over the mash - kinda like a burrito, then put on a waxed pressing board.  Dad used his dado cutter and put slots on both sides of the board.  The long way were about 10 slots and along the short side were about 20 slots.  Mom coated everything with paraffin wax.  We had to make sure to put the lengthwise slots on top the apples, so the cider would run out through the hole at the end and in to the bucket. A bucket of mash was enough to do 5 layers of of muslin-wrapped mash and 5 pressing boards.
Dad adding the freshly waxed pressing boards
 After adding the final pressing board, we added a flat board.  Dad bought the hydraulic press a few years ago - which was a drastic improvement over just using the cider press and a LOT less work.  On top the flat board, we add weights and a piece of angle iron to even out the pressing.  We kept pressing until the pressing boards touched.  It seemed to work best when we had one side of the boards touching, and then flipped the angle iron over to put more pressure on the other half of the board and press the 2nd side.
Layer the muslin wrapped around apple mash and the pressing boards
 When we had finished pressing, we unwrapped the DRY apple solids.  Three saucepans full of mash yielded about 1/4" to 1/2" deep apple pancake in each layer.

We were only able to be there for about 3 hours this morning and it was the first time that we were trying the disposal, so we were working out the getting started kinks.  We still managed to get through about 4 5-gallon pails of apples.  We used a blend of varieties of apples; the more types of apples, the smoother your cider is.  Single varietal cider is pretty harsh.  By the time that Fixit and I had to leave, we had gotten about 4 gallons of cider.  In past years, we would have had about 2 gallons.  So, it did take longer, but our yield was a lot better.  With the changes we're going to make, it should really move next time.

I sure hope so, since we have about 37 buckets of apples to go through, yet!
Fixit threatening to run us all over in the garage
p.s. Fixit kept busy, especially playing on Grandpa's Four Wheeler and on his new lawn mower.  She also got to help Grandma pick broccoli from the garden, go with Grandma to go get duck eggs, and she got to go with Grandpa on a Four Wheeler ride.

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