"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cider Season

My lovely old apple press, before I dragged it out of the shed and killed my back.

                                        First batch of juice

                                        Apples waiting to be pressed

Finally, the apples are ripening. After much scouting about, I now have a virtually unlimited supply of basically free apples; all I have to do is pick them. Since my sources have many different varieties, I should have apples all season long.

This year, I decided to start a new project. As much as I love sweet cider, and I do, there is a limit to how much one family can drink. Last year we drank cider with every meal, we froze some, we gave some away, we did our level best, but we still had cider fermenting in the fridge after a while. So I decided, why not ferment it on purpose?

Brewing is one of those intimidating culinary tasks. All you have to do is open a book and you see terminology like "titration" and "specific gravity." The list of necessary equipment includes things I last saw in high school chem lab. But hey, I've tackled other intimidating culinary tasks in this past year, like cheesemaking, canning, and pickling. Those things all had a learning curve, but I did okay. I'm up for it. Brewing may be a step up from canning, but it's not charcuterie (that's for next year.).

And besides, how can I play the self-sufficiency game in my head if I can't imagine getting pleasantly tossed?

So I went to the local brew supply store and bought the absolute minimum: a plastic fermenting bucket for the primary fermentation, a glass carboy for the secondary fermentation, two airlocks, a siphon, and some tubing. Oh yes, and yeast. I'm not even going to bottle, at least until I know if I can make anything worthy of bottling. It will be the middle of October before I can taste my first cider.

I pressed for the first time today, and drank sweet cider with supper. I also threw my back out moving that damn heavy machine. Gotta take the bitter with the sweet.