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.
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.
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.