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Posts Tagged ‘Honeycrisp’

The family and I had a succesful weekend of cider pressing. Every year we go over to my in-law’s home and press apples for fresh cider. This year we used Honeycrisp apples that my father-in-law grows, as well as Red Delicious apples from Yakima and a few other varieties. We were pressing about 1 bushel of apples to yield a gallon or gallon and one-half. This is the first year I’ve really paid attention to yield per bushel. Does anyone else have any statistics on how many gallons of cider they yield per bushel or box of apples?

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Honeycrisp apples have gained significant popularity over the past few years, even though they have been around for quite some time. Honeycrisp apples are the result of a 1960’s cross-breeding of the Macoun and Honeygold apple varieties. A project of the University of Minnesota apple breeding program. This year’s harvest of Honeycrisps will probably produce another year of growth. In Washington  State alone Honeycrisp production growth was 118% from 2006 to 2007 and another 33% from 2007 to 2008. Honeycrisps are a great table apple as well as a great blending apple for fresh apple cider.

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Washington State is located in the Pacific Northwest of the United  States, and is home to a prefect apple growing region. On the eastside of the Cascade Mountains you will find lush valleys that are home to some of the best apple’s on earth. The Yakima and Wenatchee Valleys provide the perfect apple growing climate coupled with soil rich in cascade volcanic ash. Most of the apples grown in this region are available year round, with a few exceptions. The most popular varieties of apples grown in Washington State are Red and Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn and the more recent Honeycrisp. For Cider making, there are some great parings that can be made with these varieties, but some of the more tannic and non-table type apples are found more in backyard orchards rather than grown commercially.

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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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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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