Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply, for a clean and sustainable environment, for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It's apple season, apple cider is a great fall and winter treat today we will be making some home blended sweet apple cider.
To make cider you'll need a crusher, a press, some cheesecloth, a five-gallon bucket and some containers to put your cider in these half gallon canning jars work great. Your utensils should be made of glass, plastic, stainless steel or unchipped enamel other types of metals can react with the acid in the fruit. Making cider is a great way to utilize some of your blemished apples and a bushel which is about forty five pounds will yield roughly three gallons of apple cider. One of the fun things about making your own cider is blending it to your own taste apples are not like grapes a single variety usually doesn't taste as good as if you blend different varieties together different apples have different flavor profiles often described as sweet sharp and bittersweet or bitter sharp.
A good starting ratio is half sweet, thirty five percent sharp and fifteen percent bittersweet or bitter sharp. Good sweet cider apples are ones like golden delicious, calville blanc and ashmead's kernel some sharp apples are gravenstein, cox's, orange pippin and spitzenberg Bittersweet and bitter sharps are apples like dolgo, crab apple, cortland and newtown the most important thing is to use a blend of both sweet apples and tart apples don't use all of one or all of the other it's a good idea to keep track of what varieties you've blended in what ratios and then you can keep adjusting until your recipe is perfect. I'm using three pounds of Foxwhelp and 3 lbs of Porter's perfection which are the bitter sharp and I'm using 2 lbs of winter banana nine pounds of granny smith which are the sharp and then twelve pounds of Wickson and sixteen pounds of red delicious are the sweet apples. Most of these apples are rare heirloom varieties grown right here in Nevada County by Winter Creek Antique Apples. Use only ripe apples avoid immature apples or apples that have been on the ground for more than a day to check if an apple is ripe all you have to do is twist it clockwise and if it comes off readily it's ripe another test is to cut the apple open if the seeds are dark brown the apple is ripe.
Sweat your apples for better flavor and easier juicing by putting them in a clean dry environment for about a week or so if the apple yields slightly to a firm squeeze it's ready, thoroughly clean your utensils, crusher and press with hot soapy water and wash your apples. Quarter the apples and cut out any bruises or blemishes if you wouldn't eat it it shouldn't go in your cider and don't use rotting or decayed apples either. Run your apple through a crusher the crushed apples are called pomice line the tub of your press with cheesecloth this will filter out any seeds or stems or skin but it will allow the little particles of pectin and other flavorful elements to stay in with the juice place a container below the spout of the press a funnel might be helpful if your jar has a narrow throat add the pomice and press it right away fold the cheese cloth over the pomice and then add the pressing blocks like so then place a set of wooden blocks as close as possible to the shaft and perpendicular to the gap in the plates keep adding blocks perpendicular to the blocks below until they are higher than the top of the barrel. Put on the ratchet assembly and rotate clockwise to lower it until it touches the blocks you want the lever mechanism to be on your right place the ratchet insert into the slot the pointed end of the ratchet insert should be down and to the left rotate the assembly until the lever mechanism is to your left place another ratchet insert into the remaining slot screw the lever handle into the lever mechanism now you're ready to start pressing the apples don't go too fast this process is going to take about a half hour no matter what kind of press you're using so you can enjoy the music. When the ratchet assembly reached the top of the barrel raise the assembly and add more blocks your pressed out pomice has a lot of uses. Your fresh cider will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator if you want a longer shelf life you can pasteurize it make hard cider or freeze it for more information i suggest reading this guide making the best apple cider. So plant an apple tree make some cider and grow organic for life!