Friday, March 30, 2007

Pressing Matters

Well, the funky old/new cider press hit a few snags. Or rather, I hit a few snags. See those long, thin bolts on either side? Well, let's just say that cast iron can be surprisingly brittle. While removing it from its somewhat flimsy shipping box, I broke one of those bolts. Or perhaps it broke in transit, I'm not sure. It sheared off right where it screws into the top piece. I used my best powers of persuasion and limited handyman skills to try to extract the broken piece, then to drill it out. It wasn't working. In the process, I broke off the head of a little thumb screw too.

After a few phone calls, I tracked down a guy in the next town over who could help me out. A retired shop teacher, he had a whole arsenal of metalworking tools and equipment in his garage. A day later, and he'd cleaned out the remnants of the bolt and the thumb screw, re-threaded the holes, welded a new threaded end onto the old bolt, and even delivered the repaired pieces to my door. He complimented me on knowing when to stop trying and call somebody.

So the other night, with a non-broken press and a bag of Braeburn apples, e5 and I decided to give it a whirl. Or a crank.

We (er, I) cut four small apples into chunks and dropped them into the press. After some hard cranking and just a few drops of clear liquid (probably rinse water), we realized that we must be doing something wrong. A quick trip to Google told me that we needed to pulverize the apples a bit. A meat tenderizing mallet seemed fun, but it was a bit messy, so we got out the food processor and chopped up the chunks. Then back into the press.

Success! Amber liquid began flowing from the press. Turning the crank as far as I could and then waiting a couple minutes seemed to allow further pressing.

Ultimately, we got about a cup of cider from the four small apples.

We happened to have some store bought cider in the fridge, because it's one of the few fruit juices that I can drink in quantity without it bothering my stomach.

In a side-by-side comparison, the fresh stuff tasted very similar to the store bought. It was a little crisper, fresher, and a little more complex. Not surprising I guess.

What about all that leftover apple pomace?
I found some happy consumers out in the pasture.
(Oddly, the donkey had no interest.)

So if we ever buy too many apples, or if our apple trees ever give us a surplus, or if we ever have imperfect fruit that we don't know what to do with... well, now we know what we can do with it.

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At 3/30/2007 10:20 PM, Blogger Beo said...

A cup from 4 apples seems like a pretty productive return... how many apples in a bushel? If you cored/peeled the apples first you might be able to use the pomace for baking-pancakes, bread, etc. Chicken fodder is good to, its just that I have no chickens and envy yours. Oh and your goats too.

At 3/31/2007 11:27 PM, Blogger e4 said...

I just looked up that apples are 42 lbs per bushel, though I haven't bothered to weigh the little braeburns to see what that yeild would scale up to. But I agree, a cup from four little apples is pretty good.

I'm pretty sure the pomace can be used for making vinegar too. I know Logsdon just dumps it out along his property lines and lets the seeds grow into new apple trees. Or there's always compost.

You envy my livestock and I envy your community & political climate. I guess we're even.


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