Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall is surely here!

We had such a great time last Saturday at Artisans Day. Periodically our barony hosts a day for people just to get together to work on their crafts. Some time ago, some of the guys were getting enthused to make an apple press to press cider. Given that this has been an absolute bumper crop for apples this year, their timing was rather fortuitous.

We gathered at Thorfinn and Rosalind's home. The sewers inside working hard on what we affectionately call Garbathon -- to get patterns selected and cut out for people needing garb. There were ironing boards and cutting tables and machines all going a-whir. Cooks were also busy in the kitchen. Meanwhile, we tromped out to pick apples. Mother nature was even favoring us, since we had a shockingly cold, wet, drizzly day for the first time after 6 weeks or so of blistering hot (not to mention half a dozen wild fires in the immediate area too). So I found the change to be a very welcome one, and perfectly complemented our cider making.

Going out to pick, their trees had just an incredible amount of fruit. Many of the lower branches were touching the ground, and you could hardly clear a branch without filling a bucket. We did eventually clear everything within arms reach from one tree, and the guys were having fun with the apple-picker basket on a pole. But essentially we'd filled all of our baskets and decided to get to pressing. We never did go back to pick from the other trees...




William and Thorfinn were our leaders - they had tinkered and built the press and grinder.







The grinding machine was very clever - using screw heads as the teeth. Faolan (David) jumped right in there with William, and they quickly devised an adjustment which suddenly made the griding take right off. (Some of the screw heads were backed out of the cylinder to give them more bite.) Garin too contributed an improvement attachment - a metal comb to brush the apple bits off the roller keeping the teeth from binding up.





Once we had a gallon or two of mash, this was poured into the cloth lined form on the press.



When we filled the form, the cloth was folded over, the form removed, a presser plate stacked on, and then the form replaced to start again.





You can see the juice already coming out of the mash.



Unfortunately we had to leave (my horsemanship trainer was scheduled to come out and work with both of us) so we didn't get to see the final pressing. Eventually they would stack up quite a few bundles, and then use the jack mounted to the top of the press to press down on the whole stack. When we did return - it was to find 10 gallons of apple cider! We brought home a gallon of it, and it's yummy! In fact I left the pork roast stewing in some of it in the crock pot this morning. I can't wait to try that tonight.

I guess I have decided that fall is my favorite season. The summers have been not only so hot, but extremely busy for us, that it's nice to take a breather in the cooler weather. So lets hear it for fall!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Purdie said...

Hey I didn't know you did this. We had a cider making day with our Coop last month, and the cuys press we used had a garbage disposal to grind the apples, other than that things looked very much like your photos.

11/10/10, 7:37 AM  
Blogger Monica said...

Wow, a garbage disposer? LOL, that's an inventive approach!

11/10/10, 9:57 AM  

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