We’ve been gathering apples for the past few weeks, waiting for a cold day to press outside without yellow jackets. And well, the weather has just been too nice lately, no colder days in sight so we went and pressed it all. We did it inside the sugarhouse, space is a little tight but we can close the doors and that was immensely helpful.
Bins and trailers full of apples
Cider making is another area where we are really starting to know what we’re doing. The day was full of hard work but not stressful at all. We know how to avoid yellow jackets, how to set up and use the press proficiently, we brush hogged bellow the apple trees right before the season, picked apples at more frequent intervals. Everything is better prepared and better handled. And the result is 14 gallons of cider in 1 day, for a lot of work but certainly much less work than previous years. Experience is a very nice thing to have.
After washing the apples, we crush them
Then we press them
8 gallons, more in the fridge.
3 friends stopped by and left with cider, and we gave a half gallon to a neighbor. All vaccinated, all outside, feels nice.
The sugarhouse is very multipurpose, Robin is staining shingles while we get the press ready.
It’s a pretty bad apple year and it’s likely we won’t be making cider. However it is a mast year for acorns, filling up a bag is as easy a taking a walk in the woods. In the spirit of going along with what nature decides, we’re trying acorn flour this year.
In the newly reinstalled greenhouse
Acorns are drying
We have no idea what to expect from this.
Our 2nd year making hard cider, we skipped one last year when the apple trees didn’t produce anything. Such are the whims of mother nature.
We did this one a little more “right” by transferring to a 2nd fermenter after a couple of months and by letting it age for 5 months total. It definitely helped refine the flavor and remove some of the less desirable tones.
As before we used our maple syrup to fuel the fermentation. It’s kind of a shame because the taste of maple syrup is completely lost in the process, I would love to have something mapley left. At the same time, it’s completely awesome that we are able to make hard cider with 100% local ingredients. And by local I mean right from our backyard. It may seem completely absurd to use maple syrup like this, we could sell it and buy many times its weight in refined cane sugar with the money. This isn’t what we’re after though, closing cycles as locally as possible is the end game, not making money. And so using maple syrup is the most sensical and harmonious thing we can do.
I commissioned labels from Robin, I would like to build up a portfolio of labels made from people I love to satisfy any future circumstances. This year we had deer go through apple trees during a ghost moon, and we had a press day heavy on yellow jackets.
Overall it’s really super nice that all these projects are well established these days. We are so much more relaxed going through the motions with experience under our belt. It’s still a lot of work, but at least we’re no longer worried we’re going to majorly fuck something up and ruin everything.
We’ll be sugaring soon, and we’ll have cider to drink while we boil the maple syrup we’ll use the make the cider. It’s the circle of life or something.