Brooke has been wanting to get another round of apple cider made this year before it gets too cold, and this weekend was really the last chance to get that done. Next weekend, the lows are dropping down to the teens once again (it did that a few weeks ago) and we’ve now got a snow chance in the long-term forecast, so really, today was the last opportunity!
Brooke and Calvin did a bit of cider processing earlier in October (mostly our own apples from our tree, as well as a few pears we were able to salvage), but didn’t make as much then as we did last year. This time, we went with two 5-gallon buckets of apples collected from a local seller, as well as some that Brooke’s Dad picked up from one of their properties.
This time, Brooke used a meat grinder to crush the apples before we put them in the press. She quartered them and Meg put them through the grinder, with Calvin scraping them across the cookie sheet toward a bowl for transfer to the press.
The press is always the challenging part, and the kids are amused in trying to crank it just a quarter turn further. The cider presses out, the apple pulp settles a bit, and usually you can crank it just a little bit more. After awhile, we sort of give up, but still keep the rest of the pulp to convert into apple cider vinegar (Brooke was pleased with how it turned out last year!).
While we were outside, we started up the new fire pit and roasted some hot dogs! We got 1.5″ of rain on Friday, so a lot of the sticks were still pretty moist, making it a bit difficult to get a good fire going. We got something out of it, but it wasn’t quite the roaring fire we were hoping for. Still, it was enough to roast some hot dogs!
Ultimately, we ended up with a pretty good haul! The smaller bottles will go in the freezer for smaller volumes. Calvin likes heating up cider and putting a cinnamon stick in it, so this should make it easier for us to make it on a whim without thawing out a ton that’ll go to waste.
Separately from the cider work, Brooke also harvested her gourds. It still may take another 6 months before we can actually make bowls out of them. We’ve got to find a “cool, dry place” for them, which will have to be our basement, despite the fact that it’s only really “cool” and rarely ever “dry.” Still, we don’t have much of a choice of where to put them!