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A fine fall family minivacation Sep 21

I was sitting here munching on a large apple (a crispin) and it reminded me of an adventure my family took one year. Maybe it’ll work for you, if you’re like us. We like apples, the outdoors, exercise, and money.

We happened to live not far from an apple orchard. It was a good year for the owner, and when we asked, he was willing to hire us to pick up windfalls. Windfalls are apples that fell to the ground before they could be picked. They are generally perfectly good, but they tend to have a bruise from when they fell, so orchard owners can’t sell them as eating apples. At least no one will buy them. But they are excellent for making into cider. So one Saturday, we all trooped out to the orchard and gathered apples. The kids had a blast chasing each other around, finding apples, and taking the occasional bite. After several hours we had gathered a fair number of apples, and he paid us piecework, just as if we were migrant workers.

We had more grass and fewer apples

We promptly bought a station-wagon-load of the apples (which go for a lot less than perfect apples) and still had some money left over.

The next Saturday we traveled to a local place that presses apple cider, and we had them make our winter supply of apple cider. That was an adventure all by itself! Real apple cider is cloudy, and the taste is wonderful.

The cloth bags contain chopped-up apples pressure is applied with hydraulics (modern) or a big screw (antique)

We froze the cider because it didn’t have any preservatives. Two points of information:

  • If you fill the jugs too full, the expanding freezing cider will expand right out of the jugs and make a royal mess in your freezer.
  • If you leave room, though, as the cider freezes, the “essence” tends to concentrate at the top as the crystalizing water in the cider forces the bigger organic molecules aside. This concentrate makes a teriffic apple syrup.
  • If you leave the cider out, keep an eye on it. Just before it spoils (turns to vinegar, actually), it becomes naturally carbonated, and you have home-made apple soda. With the right microorganisms you get hard cider instead of vinegar, so watch out.

We paid the rest of our “earnings” to have the cider pressed. Pretty good deal. If you ever make your own cider, tell us about it!

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Category: Adventure
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