Apple harvest

We’ve been discussing getting a cider press for some time.  We have 4 old heritage apple trees that are still producing amazing crops despite decades of neglect and hollow trunks.  Every year, we have a glut of apples to deal with – many of the windfalls go to the chickens, and some years I get time off in the right part of the season and make quantities of apple sauce – but really neither of these makes much of a dent in the apple supply.  We got a dehydrator and dried apple rings have been popular for school snacks, but again, a year’s supply of apple rings is only about 30 lbs of apples.  We borrowed a friend’s juicer and tried juicing them, but the machine is old and took forever, clogging frequently.  We kept coming back to the cider press idea.  And then….

I shop weekly at a farm stand a couple of miles away for things we don’t grow ourselves.  Almost right across the road from the market is a farmer who will do custom juicing, including ultraviolet pasteurizing.  I’ve been driving past that sign for years.  I’ve even bought juice from his operation at the farm stand.  I’ve been on a farm tour there and seen the juicing room.  And I never really had that lightbulb moment.  Don’t say it.

Just before Thanksgiving last week (we do it earlier in Canada), my husband had to nip into the farm stand for a last minute purchase of one or two things (onions – I didn’t grow NEARLY enough).  He came home with the onions and asked when the farm across the road had started doing custom juicing.  YEARS AGO??? he nearly (actually) shouted…he obviously had the lightbulb moment.  In my defense, he’s had the juice I’ve bought many times, and known where it came from – he could have spoken up sooner.

So he made a phone call, booked a date, and told me, with a beaming smile that our problems were solved – he had just committed us to picking 200 lbs of apples the day before our juicing booking.  And the very day he made the phone call, it started to rain.  Of course.

full yellow bucket = 20 lbs. full metal bucket = 15 lbs

Sunday was a full day.   After church and lunch, we climbed into our old sailing gear and got going on apple picking.  It went really fast, which surprised me.  2oo lbs in about 3 hours, just the two of us.  We picked an extra 50 lbs – 25 for our neighbour and 25 for me to make sauce.

Yesterday, my husband dropped the apples off with the juicing guy.  Today he went to pick up the 64 litres of juice (32 jugs).  Amazing.  Delicious!  Cold, it tastes tart and refreshing.  Heated up, it seems sweeter, and perhaps even tastier.

This cost us $1.75/litre (including the plastic jugs, which aren’t really optional): $.85 for the jug, $.90/per litre for the processing.  We plan next year to send a bunch of apples to the juice guy so we can use the juice to make hard cider. When he heard that, the guy told my husband that he has large 50 litre jugs that can be borrowed to transport bulk juice for that kind of thing, which will save on plastic jugs – cheaper and better for the environment.

2 dozen jugs of juice in the freezer

The 200 lbs to make the juice really only cleaned off one tree.  Cider will take care of another tree.  My pantry, my neighbour and the chickens probably use another tree.  That leaves one tree worth of fruit.  We clearly have a need for some other way to use the apples. And we know what it is.  Pigs.

Three little piggies will be coming to seek adventure (and apples) here at Tyddyn-y-morwr this spring.


7 thoughts on “Apple harvest

  1. localfoodWV says:

    I remember the wooden cider presses in New England when we would go leaf peeping. The cider was amazing, including the taste of the leaves and stems. I recently had some ultraviolet pasteurized cider processed by a juice guy near out market’s apple farm. While it was clear like juice, it tasted the way I remembered. Once again, real juice cider, not the stuff found in the supermarket. I love my farmers!

  2. Wendy says:

    Nice haul. I just recently started following your blog. I’m curious where you are, with that amazing apple harvest. I’m still hopeful that we’ll get apples shipped in from somewhere, but everyone’s saying the crops were so bad this year it might be too much to hope for. It looks like you had some great apple growing weather!

    • South Vancouver Island – when I was a kid, there were about a dozen large orchards in the area – all gone now. But it used to be a big apple growing region, and many people have an old tree or two in their subdivision home’s back yard, a legacy of the past.

  3. Annie says:

    Do you know what I would give to live next door to you?? I have usually gleaned apples in the past, but the last two years apples have been as scarce as hen’s teeth around here. We are definitely planting some of our own as soon as we get moved. And hooray about the pigs! You will love them. All but one of ours goes to the processor tomorrow…we’re saving her for breeding.

    • Allowing Life Cycles to come and glean for the food bank was an option we looked at a couple of years ago, but they were put off by the moth issues and the height of the trees. My neighbour, age 84, gives as good as he gets – I’ve easily had 40 lbs of tomatoes from him, and last year roughly a winter squash a week. He’s as excited about the pigs as we are.

  4. Three is the right number of pigs.

    Good job on the apples. Surprising how much you get from one tree in a good year. Makes me rethink how many trees I want to plant.

    So much nicer putting up apples in the cool of October compared to peaches in the heat of August.

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