We started off the month with an apple picking trip down the coast and a lovely day of putting up apples in the form of applesauce and apple butter. Read all about it in part I of our apple adventures.

Later in the month, we took a trip up to Portland and saw our friend TheSailor. She, we found out, has an old-fashioned cider press, and we couldn’t resist more apple fun.

An orchard all to ourselves

TheSailor knew an apple orchard that wasn’t being picked, so we trekked over there one damp morning to pick some apples for cider.

What happens when three girls eager for apple cider have free reign in a largely-unpicked orchard? Why, they fill up the entire back of the station wagon with apples, of course! What you can’t really tell from the photo is that there’s a pile of apples not even in a bucket in the right corner of the trunk there after one of our boxes fell apart when we tried to pick it up. We’re thinking we had about 200 pounds of apples in the car.

Have you ever pressed apple cider? We hadn’t before this, and it was great fun!

The cider press

Here’s how it works:

You cut the apples into quarters and cut out any rotting spots. Stems, seeds, peels, scabs—all of these are fine to leave because all we’re going for is the juice.You pile the quartered apples into a chute at the top of the press and crank the toothed cylinder at the bottom of the chute to crunch the apples up into smaller pieces.

The apples fall into a loose weave bag (apparently the best bag to use is a game bag, yes, that’s a bag for carrying the animals you shoot) in the basket of the press. Once the basket is about half full, you’re ready to press.

You place the press board on top of the closed up bag inside the basket, then winch down the massive screw until it presses the juice out of the crushed apples. The juice oozes through the slats in the basket onto a draining tray that pours into a bucket (or pot, as we used).

And there you have it. Fresh pressed, super yummy apple cider!

We didn’t press our apples by variety, but we still noticed differences in the cider by batch. Some batches were much darker in color and others tasted more crisp or had more depth of flavor. But all of it was delicious.

A successful, apple-tastic month

The final tally? About 230 pounds of apples picked. 6 quarts of applesauce. 5 pints of apple butter. 3 quarts of spiced apple chutney. 10 gallons of apple cider. Yeah, it was a successful (and seasonal!) month.