Squeezin the fun out of life

I drank a glass of fall afternoon, minus the burning leaves part, his weekend.

Jamey and I were lucky enough to get an apple press as a gift for our wedding. The thing is a combination of stout wooden beams and solid pieces of metal that is a great piece of engineering.

We had our inaugural pressing event on Saturday evening and my whole day was spent in anticipation of that first turn of the apple crusher. The press is my long coveted but never discovered philosopher’s stone, turning base apples into a golden liquid.

Jamey and I had two boxes full those base apples – John-o-Golds, Jonathans, Gold Delicious and a few other kinds picked from the trees of the couple who gave us our press. They’d been setting in the kitchen all week. Every time I walked by the boxes I could hear the apples’ muffled cries to be transformed, changed magically by the press.

Beyond the orchard fresh apples, I recruited a ten pound bag of seconds at the farmers’ market that day. If there’s one thing that rises to the top of the list of things I’ve never been good at, it’s moderation.

Manically careful, I oiled the wood, bolted the press together like an alchemist who knew his experiment this time would actually work. Then came the hard part – waiting.

Beyond cider, an apple press is great at creating a crowd and conversation. Our friends trickled in, bags of apples in their hands, and a little awe in their faces as they first saw the contraption sitting in our yard.

Everyone got around the press, I’m sure wondering just how it was going to work and if what would come out of it would even be drinkable. I grabbed the handle and turned the crank clockwise. The momentum of the wheel dug the metal teeth into the fruit, transforming it to pulp that fell into the wooden basket below.

We worked out a system of cutting, feeding, cranking that demolished our mounds of apples quickly. Once the basket was full and it was time to turn the screw and squeeze the life out of fall.

This is where the real transmutation took place. Pounds of apple pulp were all of a sudden a beautiful, carmel colored juice.

In all I’d say we got 5 gallons out of two pressings. I have no idea whether that’s good, average or bad, but it’s a lot of delicious, fresh cider that needed drinking. We probably only drank two gallons. We’ve given some away, froze a little, and the rest will be preserved in the best way possible, by fermenting it until we have hard cider. Stay tuned.

For a few extra pictures, go here.

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