And in keeping with the seasonal theme, we've focused on sweet, rich, caramel-colored hard apple cider!
The inspiration for this project (especially on Justin's part) was twofold: (1) A professor in Justin's department (for whom we farm-sat last month) makes delicious hard cider that we've often enjoyed, and (2) Our friend MH organized a cider pressing event for the Madison Fruits and Nuts group, where we'd have access to local organic apples, a cool hydraulic apple press, and expertise.
The pressing took place at this new community workshop called Sector67, which is really impressive space with all kinds of equipment and tools that would be too expensive for an individual to own, but which work really well when used on a cooperative basis. Check out the organization's website to learn more.
So, Sector67 loaned its parking lot for the apple pressing, and yet another wonderful local group, the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, loaned the apple chipper and press, the former of which looked like this:
You basically just fed the whole apples into the mouth of this machine (at the top left) and it chipped the apples up into little pieces, much like a wood chipper would do. Apple chips:
The apples themselves came from one of the only organic apple orchards around here, Gardens of Goodness:
Once the apples made it through the chipper, we spread the apple chips in layers between porous cloth and wooden plates in the apple press. As soon as the layers were set up, we'd turn on the machine, and the juice would just flow out of the machine into the waiting steel vessels below, which you can see behind the press at the lower left below:
Here's Justin folding up the cloth over the apple chips on one of the layers:
Once the juice was pressed into the steel vessel, it was then poured into a big bucket with a spigot, and then released from the spigot into gallon jugs:
From our two bushels of apples, we made off with about 5.5 gallons of sweet, delicious cider!
Stay tuned for the fermenting post, soon to come!