Apple Juice as a Social Lubricant

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - 6:48pm

Looking for an easy way to build community and deepen your pantry at the same time? Get some apples!

Last night, I successfully pulled off a little fantasy that had been running in my head for a while. Happy to say the reality lived up to my hopes.

There are several trees with ripe apples in my yard. My brother is visting from out of town with his wife and small kids, so I thought it would be fun to make apple juice/cider together.

The local hardware store in town has an old-style apple press you can rent for the day. So, I reserved it and invited several other families in the neighborhood over to join us.

The press I used looked just like this model:

It was great. The dozen kids busied themselves the entire time collecting apples and doing their best to keep the press' crank turning. The dads hung by with drinks in hand to intervene when jams occurred or a child's arms got tired. The shared labor quickly broke the social ice and families that had never met before got to know each other in a really enjoyable way.

We ended the day with several gallons of fresh, great-tasting Gravenstein apple juice. What didn't get consumed is now in my refrigerator, and I'll likely place some aside for becoming cider (which requires fermentation).

And the families that were here have been raving all day about how fun and personal the whole experience was. Requests for a repeat are already arriving.

All it takes for you to do the same is to get your hands on a press and some apples. If you don't have trees of your own to pick from, its worth buying a bag of apples at the store (they're cheap now, as harvest season is entering full swing) or go picking if there's an orchard in your area. And if you don't have access to an old fashioned press like I did, there are many other ways to get the juice out of the apples (still quite simply) that you can find through a quick online search.

Happy juicing!

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19 Comments

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Great idea!

It hadn't occurred to me that you could rent a cider press.  I might suggest this to our local hardware store!  I had thought of trying to acquire one, but they are expensive.  I love the rental idea.

Here in VT, we're not quite into apple season yet.  It's just barely beginning.  Eating with the seasons really make those first Fall apples that much sweeter.

Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration.

jtwalsh's picture
jtwalsh
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Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 268
Apples Away

In rural Rhode Island there are a number of farms that allow you to pick your own apples.  Some of my best memories are of the whole tribe, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins going to pick apples.  Usually apples ripen here in late September, early October, right along with pumpkins and corn stalks so we would end up going home with bushels of apples and our halloween decorations at the same time.  If you have not tried this it is great fun for families or a small group.  Getting the best apples is by definition a community effort as one or two people climb the ladders into the tree while the others have to stand by for the handdowns, or drops.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1019
Place for rentals

I would also suggest checking out your local homebrew shop to see if they rent presses.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my local shop have some for rent and purchase.  They also have loads of other handy equipment and supplies for getting into the cider / hard cider side of things.  Lots of knowledge to pull from as well. 

Great to hear you had a successful event.  Maybe I can trade with you some elderberry wine for some Cider.  :)

Grover's picture
Grover
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Posts: 845
Cider equipment

I have a grove of fruit trees, including several mature apples. They get ripe from about now through November. We usually invite the neighbors over for a pressing in September. It is always a hit and pretty much as Adam described. My neighbor kids always look forward to the event. I keep yard games (snakes & ladders, corn hole, horse shoes) out for a distraction when there isn't enough work to keep all the kids busy. When the juice starts flowing, everyone wants a cup.

Jason's suggestion of a brew/wine shop is a great one! I've seen them there for rent. I found my cider press at a garage sale. It was a senior welding project for one of the sons and hadn't been used for years and protected with a thick layer of dust. It wasn't listed for sale, but I asked if they would be interested in selling it. A couple of phone calls and a little negotiation, and it was mine. Keep your eyes open on Craigslist ... particularly just after the season is (nearly) over. If you go to an estate sale where there are lots of mature apple trees, you may find one there. It doesn't hurt to ask.

I went to a local dairy and asked if I could buy some unused empty half gallon jugs with lids. They sold me a batt (256 if I remember correctly) for about $40. These haven't been contaminated with milk and work wonderfully. That was at least 3 years ago and I still have quite a few left. Be creative when looking at options and you'll likely be pleasantly surprised. Questions are really cheap and sometimes lead to the promised lands.

Grover

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 1182
Grover

how did you process the juice in order that it kept,didn't become hard. we just bought a grinder press and will process both apples and sorghum in the coming weeks.

robie

Grover's picture
Grover
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Hard Cider

Robie,

We generally consume it fresh, within a week of making it. I always give more away than I keep. Last year, I froze 6 half-gallons for later consumption. (Don't freeze glass containers full of squeezings.)

Most fruit has wild yeast on the skin. The only way I know to remove it completely is to run it through a pasteurizing process. I doubt you have to raise the temperature up to 160 degrees, but it would have to be close. If you are selling it or giving it away, you can tell folks that it will turn to vinegar in a few weeks if they don't drink it (but no guarantees on quality or timing.) If you're going to keep it for yourself, heat it up in a stock pot and fill bottles to the rim before sealing. Even with those precautions, I don't know how long it would remain fresh tasting. That is why I don't bother. It is a seasonal delight.

A couple of times, I made apple syrup from the squeezings. I added sugar (to taste) and cinnamon and processed it just like the instructions on the pectin box (sans pectin and lemon.) That produced a thick syrup that was wonderful on pancakes. The longer you boil it, the thicker it gets.

My favorite way to preserve apples is to slice and dehydrate them into apple chips. I have one of these peeler/corer/slicers that I disengage the peeler apparatus so I get a cored, spiral sliced apple with the skin intact. A cut down the middle and you've got lots of slices to be dried. In less than 100 minutes, my wife and I can process a 5 gallon bucket of apples. After drying, the chips fit into 2 1-gallon sized ziplock bags. They make great gifts as well.

Hope this helps,

Grover

Peel Away Apple Peeler

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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whew

i thought you had all those 1/2 gallon jugs of hard cider and might have the ATFE or whoever chcking up on the minimums of fermented beverage allowed (insert smiley)

We're gonna have ALOT of apple juice,fresh that is, about labor day. i don't want to can it but will probably have to. fermentation is an option but i'm insufficiently equioped.  

thanks,robie

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Nice that you have a local homebrew shop!

Sadly, ours lasted only 2 years and went out of business. 

jasonw wrote:

I would also suggest checking out your local homebrew shop to see if they rent presses.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my local shop have some for rent and purchase.  They also have loads of other handy equipment and supplies for getting into the cider / hard cider side of things.  Lots of knowledge to pull from as well. 

Great to hear you had a successful event.  Maybe I can trade with you some elderberry wine for some Cider.  :)

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Depends on the yeast
Grover wrote:

Most fruit has wild yeast on the skin. The only way I know to remove it completely is to run it through a pasteurizing process. I doubt you have to raise the temperature up to 160 degrees, but it would have to be close. If you are selling it or giving it away, you can tell folks that it will turn to vinegar in a few weeks if they don't drink it (but no guarantees on quality or timing.)

As I understand it, depending on the yeast, you either get vinegar -- or alcohol.  Around here, we call the latter "cider gone good!"  Cider vinegar is useful, but naturally fermenting not-quite-hard cider is delectable. 

Grover's picture
Grover
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Posts: 845
I drink it fresh

Amanda,

As you noted, different yeasts produce different byproducts. Whenever I've left jugs of squeezings out, I've gotten vinegar. I think the vinegar yeasts are more proficient and overwhelm the sweet alcohol yeasts. Or, it could be oxygen getting to the brew and making acetic acid. Maybe I just attract sourness. I really don't know what the cause is.

Many years ago, I pasteurized a glass bottle of cider and added a bottle of yeasty mead (honey wine) to the bottle to see if it would ferment and produce a tasty product. I put a balloon on the bottle top to allow gases to be relieved and indicate when fermentation was completed. After a few weeks, I tried it - vinegar.

Did I mention that cider really tastes great fresh.

On another note: I only use my cider press a few days of the year. Friends who have trees have invited me over to help them make cider (using my press.) It is fun being the foreman and having everyone else do the work. If you know someone who has a press, they may be willing to let you use it for nothing more than a sincere smile and a heartfelt thankyou.

Grover

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3085
peeler/corer/slicer

Grover -

I picked up a the same peeler/corer/slicer model you pictured below. It's a dream!

Super-fast, almost no mess - now I can't imagine going back to doing it all by hand.

The spirally-sliced apples make a great instant snack. But it really makes the work of pie or applesauce-making MUCH smaller.

An excellent investment!

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 845
It's a Spare

Adam,

I've used one of these for 6 years and it is almost worn out. The edge of the thread drive has been rounded. It still works, but I have to apply quite a bit of pressure to the thumb cant. I found the same peeler on sale this last winter and bought 2 of them. I'll keep the old one for parts and one of the new ones for a spare.

To everyone else, unless you want the cabinet mount version (C clamp), make sure you get the suction cup quick release. This may sound hokey, but I wish everything in life were as fulfilling as this peeler.

Grover

PS - I picked about 5 pounds of tomatoes yesterday and I'm dehydrating them. They're about done. I've got a peck of green beans that go in there as soon as the tomatoes are done. Life is good this time of year.

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
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Posts: 409
"Cider gone good"

I don't know the science of it, but I do know that when I've kept sweet cider covered and unrefrigerated, I always seem to get alcohol fermentation, not vinegar. 

However, there are at least a couple of local orchards where people swear you can make full-brewed hard cider using just the naturally occurring yeast on those apples, and it's possible the cider I've noticed this with is from one of those orchards.

There is a wonderful orchard near us that is dedicated to growing heirloom apples, and they have some really wonderful varieties (for cider and other uses).  However, they do at least low-level antifungal spraying, so their apples don't come pre-yeasted, unfortunately. 

I'm really intrigued by the use of natural orchard yeast to make hard cider, and it's how I was taught.  You do proof the yeast, of course.  Looking forward to making some this Fall!  (Which is just about right around the corner here in New England...)

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1182
Amanda?

thats what we here @bluestemfarms are gonna do, and soon too. grind,press,and naturally ferment(wild yeast) a large portion of our apple crop. remin d me in a month and results will be forthcoming.

 

robie

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Robie, I'd love to hear more.

I look forward to it!

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
canning apple juice

 I am because it is off year for apples around here   .

I use this juicer  from the Lehman catalog  for all fruit pealing and cores 

https://www.lehmans.com/p-1053-8-14-qt-stainless-steel-steam-juicer.aspx... https://www.lehmans.com/p-1053-8-14-qt-stainless-steel-steam-juicer.aspx?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&utm_campaign=1053&gclid=CIzVuceflbkCFSlo7Aodxhg  

 Then hot bath it for 20 minutes .

    We are enjoying  probiotic fermented lemon /limeade  now .   YUMMY  Fizzy  I put raspberries or strawberries in it as well

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 845
Steam Juicer

Full Moon,

I'm intrigued. I've never used a steam juicer. How long does it take to do a batch of apples? Do you use whole apples? For the 8 1/4 quart version that you linked, how many quarts of juice do you get? How does the apple juice compare to cider squeezings? What other fruits have you processed this way?

Grover

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
how I do it

Grover , I am amazed at this juicer .   Put the water in the bottom on a low steam not a rolling boil .   I  do elderberries , wild plums , chokecherries   , my grapes with seeds  ... all these whole .     For fruits I can up or freeze like peaches , pears, apples , tomatoes ,apricots  etc  I put the peels and cores in .

 You can use this juice to make jelly , syrups, or smoothies .  

   I am very very happy at how easy this is to do . I  do not buy any juice anymore .   People  give fruit away because they are unable or too lazy to pick them . As for time  I just  leave it on the stove while canning the fruits I have not timed it .

  OH  Yes . IF I do not have time or want to do this at  the time the fruit is ready I will put the peel or the berry  in the freezer in a grocery bag  then pull them out and juice them during the winter when I want to warm the house .   I let it juice while we are doing school , chores , or what ever .

 

 Full Moon

 

 

Spromilt's picture
Spromilt
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 23 2017
Posts: 1
I've utilized one of these

I've utilized one of these for a long time and it is practically exhausted. The edge of the string drive has been adjusted. Despite everything it works, however I need to apply a considerable amount of weight to the thumb cant. I found a similar peeler marked down this the previous winter and purchased 2 of them. I'll keep the old one for parts and one of the new ones for an extra.

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