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Archive for July, 2009

One of the great things abouts making homemade apple cider, is that you can never run out of different apple combinations to experiment with. The more apple cider you make the more you will begin to understand what works well together and what doesn’t. This depends on your unique tastes as well, not everyone will agree on what tastes best. My philosophy is that you must start with quality apples and from there it’s just a matter of fine tuning. Most talk is surrounded around a good mix of sweet apples and tart apples, or at least having a good balance. I agree, it’s a must to mix at least two apple pairings, unless of course you don’t have a choice. Then the best apple choice is your only choice, I’m sure it will still be tasty. Here is a chart I found from Sage Fruit Company in Yakima, Washington. I love the graphic detail laying out the spectrum of different apple flavors. This can give the homemade cider maker some great ideas!

Spectrum of Apple Flavors

Apple Flavors and Varieties

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Now that you have successfully pressed the apple pomace through your fruit press and gathered the resulting juice, you are ready to enjoy your homemade apple cider. As mentioned in a previous post, you may want to run the juice through an additional filter, or you can leave it as it comes hot off the press. Without the additional filter you will probably have small pieces of pulp from the apples. Remember your fresh apple cider will  turn brown soon after contact with the air due to all of these small pieces of apple.

You should collect the juice from your cider press in a container that will be easy to transfer to smaller storing containers if you plan on freezing or giving away some of your special recipe. If you have a bucket that fits beneath your press, you can buy buckets with spigots, which make the transfer to smaller containers very easy. If not, you will probably need to invest in a filter (even and oil filter will work) to make the transfer. Unless you are planning to drink the cider in the very near future, you should always use plastic containers for longer term storage and freezing, and be sure to allow some “breathing” in the top of the container when freezing. If you are making a hard cider, you are getting to the good part. More to come on that in a later post.

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Washington State currently has 11 wine appellations and has a least one other area that will be added soon. In 1983, the Yakima Valley appellation was the first established in the state and is home to more than 60 wineries. The Walla Walla appellation was the second established area in 1984. Walla Walla has been growing grapes since the mid 19th century. Other appellations around Washington State include Columbia Valley, Puget Sound, Red Mountain, Columbia Gorge, Horse Haven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain, & Lake Chelan.

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During Colonial times apple cider was the drink of choice. Not native to the Americas, the settlers brought over apple seeds from Europe and begin planting apple trees throughout the colonies. The presses that they used were probably not far different from the Apple Cider Press that is available today. Since they could not trust the water due to contamination, the settlers enjoyed apple cider as their main drink. It is said that John Adams, the United States’ second president enjoyed his cider with breakfast. And cider in this passage is referring to “hard cider” or fermented cider. In England, where cider is of great popularity, freshly pressing apples produce “juice” whereas we call it “cider”. In the United States, we have to specify which type of cider we’re talking about, either regular cider (juice) or hard cider (fermented). As settlers moved west the apple trees and cider consumption moved with them (remember the story of Johnny Appleseed?), this is until they ran into the high plains of the Rocky Mountains. It became more difficult to plant apple trees and produce cider, around the same time period was the introduction of German beer to the United States. This was the beginning of the end for apple cider as America’s beverage. The nail in the coffin was Prohibition, as the production and consumption of all alcoholic beverages diminished. Apple Cider never recovered. We have seen some gain in popularity in the last decade or two with the rise in handcrafted breweries, or micro breweries throughout the United States.

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Once the apples are crushing into pumace they are ready to be pressed. Depending on what type of apple cider press you have will determine the ease of transitioning the pumace into the tubs for pressing. Some single tub presses, such as the Jaffrey 8400, havea grinder attachment that allows you to grind the apples directly into the tube, while all double tub presses, such as a Correll Press, allow you to grind the fruit into one tub while pressing in the second tub. Either way you will want to line the tub with a nylon cider press bag. The bag will act as a filter as you press the juice out of the fruit. Without the bag you will more than likely find stems, seed chunks and a great deal of pulp  in your apple cider. Once you have the pumace, or ground apples, into the lined tub it is time to press. Fold the nylon bag over so you seal off the top and then place the tub under your pressing block. You are now ready to begin pressing. Make sure you have a clean bucket or tub to collect the juice when pressing. It will depend on how high your press sits off the ground when figuring out the right collection method. You may want to consider a second filtration after the cider is pressed. You can use cheese cloth or a fine square of wire in conjunction with a funnel to do so.

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away! No kidding.  Whether you are enjoying Red Delicious, Gala, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Jonagold, Golden,  Fuji, or one of the many other varirties of apples, you are doing yourself a healthy favor. According to the US Apple Association, here are the facts:

  • Apples contain zero fat & saturated fat, and are cholesteral & Sodium Free.
  • Apples are also an excellent source of fiber and contain natural plant-based antioxidents.
  • Apples and Apple Juice and Cider contain the mineral boron, which promotes helthy bones.
  • Apples are sweetened with the natural sugar called fructose.
  • Apples are a high fiber food which helps maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Enjoy your apple a day in  any way you choose. Juices, whole apples, sliced apples, cider, or apple sauce.

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Step 2 – Crushing the Apples into Pumace

Once you have selected the apples and combination of your choice, it is time to grind the apples into a pumace  before pressing. This will create a mushy and very thick apple sauce type substance, and is a critical step to not only maximize the juice you will get when pressed, but will also prolong the life of your equipment. If you already own an apple cider press, you should have (or have the option) of an attached grinder. Certain presses, such as Correll Apple Presses have automatic grinders, while the more traditional cider presses have manual cranks or flywheels used to crush the apples. Jaffrey Manufacturing has a fruit grinder that can be purchased individually as well as the Weston Apple Grinder. If you don’t have a grinder with your apple or wine press, you can always use a kitchen blender, but it will take a lot longer to get the amount of pumace necessary for juicing. Once you have your pumace prepared it is now time to start pressing the fruit.

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The Yakima Valley is the wine country of Washington State. Yakima Valley Wine Country has over 60 wineries located in this area and was the first appelation established in the state. The city of Yakima has also seen a lot of activity surrounding wineries lately. The downtown area is home to a number of tasting rooms and restaurants serving local wines. The climate in the Yakima area is perfect for growing grapes, with lots of sun and a drier climate than the western side of the state. A number of varieties of grapes flourish in the Yakima Valley including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Reisling, Cabernet Franc, Gerwurtztraminer, and others. During the summer you will find many activities at the wineries in the Yakima Valley, along with all the other fruit growers that share the same Valley. If you are a hobbyist and would like to grow your own grapes or make your own wine, the Yakima Valley has all the tools you need to get started including classes at the community college and suppliers to get your hobby started. If you are interested in pressing wines, you will find many wine press products as well.

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Here is a step by step guide for making homemade apple cider using a fruit press.

 

Step 1 – Apple Selection & Preparation

This is a critical step as this will determine the quality and flavor of your cider. Make sure you are not using apples that are tree fallen as they will most certainly contain pests, which will not only hurt your cider, they may have contaminated the apples. Quality fruit will produce quality cider, just like anything else. You will also want to select a couple different varieties of apples. Using two or three different varieties will give your cider a unique taste. Each time your press apples you can experiment with different varieties of apples to find the perfect ratio of sweetness and tart. An example of a blend may be Red Delicious apples coupled with Granny Smiths. As I am from the Yakima Valley I always use apples grown in Washington State, I have yet to find better apples than the apples grown in Central Washington. Even with this simple mix you can adjust the ratio of reds to granny’s to refine your blend. Other blends may apple varieties such as: Jonagold, Pink Lady, Golden, Gala, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, or Rome.

Once you have your fruit selected you will want to make sure you wash them throroughly to remove all pesticides. When pressing apples your press should have a grinder to crush the apples into small pieces. However, I suggest at least quartering the apples before putting them through your grinder unless you have a quality grinder that can handle whole apples. Some cider presses  have automatic grinders while others have a manual crank.

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Our new website http://www.thefruitpress.com is now live! Our site was developed to bring our customers the best apple cider and wine presses from accross the globe. We currently have the Original Jaffrey Cider Press as well as Weston brand presses. Our intent is to continue to add quality fruit presses from other manufacturers.
We serve both individuals and families that are interested in making homemade apple cider and homemade wines. We believe pressing fruit is not only a healthy alternative to food products loaded with artificial flavors and preservatives, but it is also fun and promotes a quality family activity. Of course it all starts with the apples and grapes, so be sure you have quality fruit when pressing for cider, wines or juices.

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