Pressing apple cider is a traditional part of fall harvest celebrations, providing a refreshing — and delicious — treat after a day of hard labor. Not one to miss out on any occasion to celebrate fresh fall flavors, MOTHER EARTH NEWS put their Whizbang Apple Grinder and Cider Press to the test yesterday, with apple-licious results.
For those new to pressing apple cider, the general process begins with collecting the apples. The fruits pressed for our cider were generously donated and hand-picked by employees of MOTHER and Ogden Publications, totaling an impressive seven good-sized boxes full of both apples and pears of several different varieties. Before pressing, the apples must be washed and quartered. We dumped all the apples into a big tub of water before cutting out the bad spots and chopping the fruits into fourths (see photo to the right). We opted to make batches that included a good mixture of both apples and pears, a product not easily found in stores!
Finally, the real fun begins: The quartered apple pieces are pushed through a grinder (see photo to the left). Commonly, these grinders are a series of blades turned by a hand-cranked lever, ensuring you work up a sweat deserving of a large glass of fresh apple cider at the end. We were able to save time and energy with the garbage disposal feature of the Whizbang apple grinder, quickly grinding the fruits into a mush ready to be pressed.
The pressing is definitely the best part, where you literally drink the fruits of your labors. Again, many presses require someone to use their sheer brute force to crank a weight down onto the apple pulp. Our cider press relied on a lever system, so we were able to squeeze large batches of cider in each pressing. The mush from the grinding process was gathered into the cloth-lined pressing tub, layered with pressing disks. This layered pressing design, known as a rack-and-cloth pressing system, ensures a more even distribution of pressure on the apple pulp, which means more cider is extracted. After a few hours of cutting, grinding and pressing, we were rewarded with a total collection of seven gallons of fresh apple cider — a delicious fall treat.
To have your own fun cider experiences, check out these MOTHER EARTH NEWS articles online:
Cider Press Plans
Enjoy Delicious Apple Cider, Sweet and Hard
Growing Apples for Homemade Cider
Photos by Lindsey Siegle