Last year we started a new tradition. Matt's grandfather had an old cider press that Matt decided to bring home and clean up. He thought it would be fun to make apple cider. We really enjoyed ourselves last year so we hope to continue the tradition every year. This year Matt's Aunt Mary and his cousins Craig and Jodi joined us, along with Matt's parents who were with us last year also. Mary supplied the apples from her bountiful crop of apples she had this year.
Matt and I scrubbed and sanitized the cider press. I sanitized all the milk jugs I have been saving for weeks leading up to the big day. Shelby and Jake are in charge of scrubbing and sanitizing the apples. After all the cleaning is done we begin to make cider. It is simple really. You throw apples in the hopper at the top. Someone cranks the grinder. Jake loves to do this but usually needs help. Then the apples get chopped up and fall into one of two wooden barrels. When you fill one up you move it forward so it is underneath the press. You put the lid on the barrel and then begin to bring the press down. As it presses down on the apples the cider flows out between the slats in the the barrels, and down into the pan. It is so good!
It takes a lot of apples to make cider. We had several bushels of apples but only got about 5 gallons of cider out of them. Last year we froze several gallons to enjoy throughout the winter but discovered that the kids prefer it fresh. Matt was really the only one drinking it after I would thaw one out. So this year we shared a couple gallons with Craig who is going to try to make apple wine. He makes different wines and beer as a hobby and they are good! I hope he saves some apple wine for me to try sometime in the spring!