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Posts Tagged ‘Yakima Valley’

Here in the Yakima Valley there are lots of people with a small plot of fruit trees and/or grapes. These small plots are usually not large enough to sell the fruit commercial, but they are perfect for making homemade cider or wine. Using fresh grapes to press your own wine can be a fun and challenging experience. But as you take your first sip, it can be very rewarding. At Yakima Press Company, they design and manufacture fruit presses for both the beginning and advanced home brewers. So whether you are going to produce a few gallons of juice or wine, or a larger batch, Yakima Press is sure to have a grape or apple press to meet your needs. The Villager Wine Press is a grape press that will inspire. If you are looking to produce a small  to medium batch of homemade wine, then this is the wine press for you.

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The Kingston Black apple is another variety of apple that is best suited for cider making only. With its bitter taste it isn’t much of an eating apple like so many of the apples grown in the United States. In  fact, most cider making apple varieties don’t even look like the larger Red Delicious or Fuji’s that everyone  loves to eat. Most cider making apples are smaller and tend to grow in clusters of 3 or more. If you are looking to grow cider apples or if you are looking for a variety to buy to make hard cider, the Kingston Black may be a good place to start. It is a good stand alone variety, or varietal, so you don’t necessarily need to blend this apple variety with other apple varieties. If you do want to grow a Kingston Black apple tree, you can purchase them in the States and they are best suited to grow in hardiness zones 4-9. This hardiness zone covers a majority of the US, from the Yakima Valley in Washington State to the Tennessee River Valley. See the map below. The only climates to avoid would be the northern plains and the southern tip of Florida.

Climate and growing zones for the United States

Climate and growing zones for the United States

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Last week marked the beginning of this year’s grape harvest. From the Wahluke Slope in Mattawa to the Walla Walla Valley, grapes are being harvesting. Most varieties of grapes that are harvested first are Chardonnay, Savignon Blanc, and Merlot. According to an article from Wine Press Northwest, the grapes are about 9 days ahead of last year. This is more in line with normal vintage. If you are looking for more information on Yakima Valley or Washington Wines, or are interested in making homemade wines, visit www.thefruitpress.com. They have two varieties of Wine Presses for sale.

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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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There is a new cidery in the Yakima Valley, and is located in Tieton, Washington. Tieton Cider Works is preparing to release their first ciders to the world this year, with shipping available in February 2010. I sent TCW and email to see if I could come by their facilities to check it out. I hope I can get over there when they are pressing in September. They seem like very cool people and I look forward to tasting their ciders. They have  organic apple orchards where most (if not all) of their cider apples are grown. I am very interested in checking out their commercial cider press and how that works. More info to come…

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Over the past weekend I purchased an old cider press from a lady in the Yakima Valley. It is a bit smaller than most of the antique presses I have seen, but that is OK as they all seem to weigh a thousand pounds. It had been in her family for 60 or so years, but I believe the press is older than that. The wood has been dried out and is somewhat brittle so I’m not sure if I can use a lot of the wood going forward or not. Probably not. One thing I wish was included with the cider press was the old cider hoppers that mount on top of the grinder. It must have been lost along the way, or broken. As I restore this press I was hoping to find others who have restored old cider presses, or grape presses, to get some good input. This is my first restoration project, and I’m not what you might call a professional woodworker. But it’s something that I enjoy, so it’s worth it. I hope to have this at least in working order for the 2009 Apple harvest. Here are some pictures of my new project.

Antique Cider Press

Antique Cider Press

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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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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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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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