Apples, apples, apples. They fill my dreams and my back yard. They are everywhere. More apples than I know what to do with. We have dried them, mashed them into sauce, pureed them into butter, and used a cheapo juicer to make apple cider.
Luckily, a friend of a friend lent us a homemade apple cider press. It's quite ingeniously designed.
There are two parts to it. First, there is a beautiful maple cutting board with an in-sink garbage disposal. The disposal isn't for disposing though, it's for mashing up the apples. It's much more efficient than a blender, partly because you don't have to mash the apples in batches. Instead, you put a bucket under the “sink” and the apple mash just flows into the bucket. The cutting board counter is at just the right height to make cutting off the icky apple bits less of a chore. It was really easy on my back.
Once you've mashed a bucket of apples, you ladle it onto one of a series of wooden slats in the apple press proper. There is a mesh netting that holds in the solid apple parts. We piled on four or five layers of wooden slats with mesh and apples.
Finally, there is a hydraulic pump that goes on top that presses out the apple cider into a waiting bucket below.
We made six and a half gallons of cider in about an hour and a half, including all the apple cutting and most of the clean-up. What do you do with 6 and a half gallons of cider? We put it in ziplock bags and stuck it in the freezer, leaving enough room for the cider to expand without bursting the bags :)
While we were finishing up, Laika began to bark. I thought I had heard the UPS truck, whose cookie-carrying driver is her favorite visitor, but no truck appeared. We went to see what she was barking at and found a moose sauntering across the field across the street. Very cool.
The only downside to the day? We didn't make a dent in the apples.