Besides collecting pumpkins, this is the season of apple-picking. Probably no other time of year unites us New Englanders as much as the harvest days. These gatherings are not only to reap the bounties of the year, but to also enjoy ourselves with friends, family, co-workers, newcomers, and strangers. This sense of community is deeply rooted in northeastern tradition, going as far back as the colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts and their first harvest celebration with the Wampanoag in 1621.
So when I heard about the cider-making event at work, I just couldn’t refuse ;).
This was most definitely a good year for apples, despite the unusually dry summer. The apple trees on site are a mix of Rhode Island Greening, Newtown Pippin, Baldwin, and Cortlands.
Say, who’s that cheery guy in the green?? 😛
This is the cider press, an old-fashioned design relying on muscle to process the apples and squeeze out the delicious liquid. There was no shortage of muscle with the number of rangers and fellow NPS volunteers who arrived to take part in the fun ;).
Here’s an up-close look at the press in action. Apples are chucked into the grinder, powered by human strength, which breaks down the fruits into smaller pieces. These bits are collected in a bucket lines with muslin, cheesecloth, or other fine mesh fabric. When the bucket is full, the top is placed on the bucket, which is then pressed down by turning a metal rod. The cider collects at the bottom of the bucket and is funneled down a little hole into a container.
This cider is unfiltered and unpasteurised, and probably contains more nutrients that would otherwise be left out or destroyed in commercial cider. When filled, each half-gallon jug had a lovely foam layer at the top, much like the frothy head of quality beer :). We toasted each other and savoured the first taste of cider after the initial container was filled. At the end of the event, we had made a whopping 17.5 gallons of cider, and everyone went home happy with a jug. A basket of whole apples was left for those who wanted to take some home for cooking…I snagged a few to dehydrate later. :).
Many thanks to Kristin for organising this wonderful celebration. Lots of laughter and merriment to go around for all :). Sláinte mhaith!