14 Photos - Sep 22, 2014
Photo: On September 20, 2014, Greg, Steve and Joe hosted a cider pressing using their incredible makeshift press. With more than double the number of apples as they've ever had before, the 12-hour operation pressed over 300 gallons of cider from locally picked apples and still didn't complete every bushel that arrived.Photo: Step One: Get apples. I think we had enough.Photo: Step two: Sort the apples. The sorting table allows for multiple people to glance over the apples and pull the rotten, soft, and nasty ones (and all the Red Delicious, which belong in the mulch and not in the cider). With so many, we tried to have an extra discerning eye this year.Photo: Step Three: Wash the apples. The pressure washer was formerly for sugar beets, but has been repurposed for the cider making process. First, the apples are rinsed with recycled water for 1-2 minutes, than washed again with fresh water for 30 seconds to a minute and a half.Photo: A large foot press opens the washer, allowing the apples to pour down into a funnel table. Approximately two bushels of apples can be washed at a time without overflowing the machine.Photo: Step Four: Chop the apples. The chopping machine grinds the apples up into a corse pulpy mass and spits it into buckets. If the people stationed at the chopper don't swap buckets, they tend to overflow, as it's not an automated process.Photo: The buckets of chopped apples are collected from the grinder and shuttled to the wrapping table to be preppped for pressing.Photo: Step Five: Wrap the apple mash. Using a wooden plate as a base and a wooden frame to make sure the right amount of apples ends up wrapped, volunteers lay microfiber cloths down in a diamond shape before filling them and wrapping them. The microfiber allows the juice/cider to flow freely while containing the pulp, which is reused to fertilize gardens or trucked away by others as animal feed.Photo: Step Six: Load and press. Here, Joe loads a tray with wrapped apple mash into the press. Once full, the stainless steel casing is closed to keep the plates from shifting and the press is activated.Photo: Greg, on the left, along with Steve built this pnematic press more recently, but they've been pressing cider with a hand screw press for well over fifteen years. Throughout the day, repairs and adjustments are made to best keep everyhing functioning smoothly. This year, Greg added an additional two-inch draim to the press to further increase the amount of cider that can run down at any given momentPhoto: Photo: Step 7: Fill, Drink, Ferment, and Enjoy. The milk cooler has multple spigots that make it easy to pour out into a variety of containers. While most people fill up gallon jugs (as seen in the background), here a five gallon tub equipped with a gasket and airlock is filled for fermenting. The sweet cider gets better as more apples are added, but fermenting still requires yeast, time, and storage.Photo: Greg and Josh joke and laugh after repairing the pump between the press and the cooler.Photo: Greg and Steve have quite the operation, and it takes a lot to run it. Though they let anyone come down and participate, the majority of help is only there for a few hours before bolting with their share of cider. A few of us were there for 7-12 hours easily including the cleanup, and Greg and Steve need as much help as they can get. If you're interested in participating or getting more information, you can email them at LT-cider@comcast.net