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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar
Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Russell, our daughter Sarah, and Chestnut (Sarah’s pony) picking up apples for cider making.

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

by Elizabeth Biggs of Quebec

I have often thought that I would not care to live where seasons do not change. My mind and body seem geared to our climate; the reawakening of spring, the blossoming of summer, the ripeness of autumn, the expectancy of winter. This past fall season has been a particularly beautiful one in our country-side of south eastern Quebec. We were blessed with day after day of warm sunshine. The memory of those warm summer like days and the vision of the brilliance of the autumn colours will shelter and comfort us in the long winter days ahead.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Sarah and Chestnut arriving at cider mill with a load of apples.

While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider or sweet cider as it is commonly called for six years. At an off season for cattle hoof trimming which provides the main source of income for our livelihood, cider making sees us through those lean months. That same possibility exists for anyone living in an area where apples are plentiful. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year, providing a source of that scarce and illusive commodity for most small farmers, CASH!

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apples being fed into grinder.

We live in an important apple producing area of our province; in fact we are surrounded by large commercial orchards in our neighborhood. Our own small orchard of twenty trees of MacIntosh, Melba, Lobo, and Cortland apples cannot begin to furnish enough apples for our cider making. The rest we buy from these large commercial orchards. By buying ground apples and doing our own picking and transporting, the cost of two dollars per bushel is quickly multiplied in the finished product. Our yield usually averages three gallons of cider for one bushel of fully ripened ground apples.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

View of slatted rack and shaping frame.

We bought our cider mill from an old-timer who had built it some twenty years ago and we still admire the simplicity and ingenuity of it’s design. Unfortunately, poor health ended Mr. Clough’s cider making days, but he seemed glad to know the mill would still be in use. Anyone with some basic carpentry skills could build his own mill as well. The mill consists of two parts; the grinder and the press. (see diagram). The grinder consists of a wooden cylinder studded with nail heads which is mounted on a long narrow box. Apples are fed gradually into the grinder powered by a half-horse power electric motor and the resulting apple pulp is collected in the wooden box.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

As you can see from the diagram the press is basically a sturdy wooden frame and a mounted screw. The idea is to build up layers of crushed apples in order to press out the juice. Wooden slatted racks are placed between the layers to provide space for the juice to run out of the press into a collecting barrel. A wooden shaping frame is placed on the first rack, a burlap liner is arranged over the frame, to which is added the crushed apples. As each layer is filled, the process begins again, rack, frame, liner, apples. Approximately twenty-five bushels of apples and five layers fill our press. Now the actual pressing can begin. A piece of plywood is placed over the last layer of apples, some wooden blocks are used to fill in the empty space between apples and pressing board, a metal bar is placed in the screw head, a couple of turns and voila! Sweet autumn nectar – fresh apple juice. This is apple juice like no other you’ve ever tasted.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Arranging burlap over frame in preparation for apple pulp.

We filter our juice through one layer of clean white cotton (I use old flour bags) into milk cans. The cider is ready to be bottled.

Old timers say that only wood should come in contact with apples. The corrosive quality of apple juice will quickly pick up a metallic taste, so bottle up that juice quickly. We use old wine jugs salvaged from our wine drinking friends garbage that have been thoroughly washed and scalded. Sweet cider is a short life product. In warm temperatures and even in the back of the refrigerator it will quickly start to ferment. But then many of our customers say they like their juice a little picky. Just be sure to loosen the cap or you might lose an eye when you come to sample that rare vintage of week old cider. We try to bottle all our juice and peddle it the same day. We have built up a reliable clientele who are more than anxious to buy fresh apple juice delivered to their door.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Face view of cider press with first layer of apples being filled (note cider already running out of press).

Always remember, if you want to make good cider, be clean, right from the beginning with the apples (no I don’t agree a few slugs add body to the flavour) to the grinder and press which receives a thorough scrub down after each batch is made. I made our burlap liners from cattle feed bags taken apart in the seams and sewn together on my sewing machine, four bags for one liner. Be sure to boil the bags first, followed by several washes and rinses in the washing machine. Don’t make my mistake and omit the boiling. Our first batch of cider had a decided flavour of cattle feed. That batch of cider watered my tomatoes.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Leveling out apple layer.

We put up about forty gallons of cider for the winter by bringing the juice just to the boil and putting it in scalded bottles. Be sure to boil the caps too. If there is room in the freezer, that’s the best place to keep cider. My freezer is usually so full of meat and vegetables there isn’t room. Pasturizing does alter the flavour a little, but it’s still good drinking.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Press filled, Russell getting ready to press out juice.

I’ve added two recipes that I use every cider season. If you are ever up our way some crisp October day drop in. If there is nobody home, just head on up the hill to the cider mill. We’re probably there knee deep in apples and cider. Bring along a glass. I’ve got a bottle of the good stuff set aside for you.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Tightening press.

HOT SPICED APPLE CIDER

  • 1 gal. fresh apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 lemon thinly sliced
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

To 1 gallon of juice add other ingredients. Bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy!

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Jug rack and bottling headquarters (otherwise known as summer picnic table).

APPLE BUTTER

  • 13 sliced and cored unpeeled apples
  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice

Cook apples and cider together uncovered until apples are soft. Put this pulp through a sieve. Add sugar and spices to this pulp and cook over low heat until thickened stirring occasionally. (Approximately 20 min.) Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. Delicious on hot homemade bread.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Ma lugging up all that water for scrubbing and washing.

Spotlight On: Book Reviews

Art of Working Horses Another Review

Art of Working Horses – Another Review

by:
from issue:

One could loosely say this is a “how-to” book but it is more of an “existential” how-to: how to get yourself into a way of thinking about the world of working horses. Maybe we need to explain what a working horse is. A working horse is one, in harness, given to a specific task. So, in that context, the book illustrates the many ways Miller has worked with his equine partners over the years – helping them understand what he wants them to do, as both work together to create relationships that help achieve desired goals.

A Quiet Stand

A Quiet Stand

Burnout is common to idealists who invest deeply in their dreams. It is easy to overreach, and promise more than you have to give. Then too there is that tempered hidden anchor called hope, the mountain climber’s friend driven into cracks to belay and secure him as he goes, which still may fail first or last. So following the story that underlies these essays it is not hard to see how, as Kingsnorth says, finding himself increasingly mired in endless meetings with corporate spokesmen paid to resist him, enough futile effort might lead to despair.

An Introduction To Grasslands Farming

From Dusty Shelves: A World War II era article on grassland farming.

Laying Out Fields for Plowing

Laying Out Fields for Plowing

There are four general plans, or methods of plowing fields. These are: (1) to plow from one side of a field to the other; (2) to plow around the field; (3) to plow a field in lands; and (4) to start the plowing in the center of the field.

Build Your Own Earth Oven

An Introduction To Cob

Mixed with sand, water, and straw, a clayey-subsoil will dry into a very hard and durable material; indeed, it was the first, natural “concrete”. In the Americas, we call it “adobe”, which is originally from the Arabic “al-toba”, meaning “the brick.” Invading Moors brought the word to Spain from North Africa, where an ancient mud building tradition continues today.

Haying With Horses

Hitching Horses To A Mower

When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

From humor-filled stories of a life of farming to incisive examinations of food safety, from magical moments of the re-enchantment of agriculture to the benches we would use for the sharpening of our tools, Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows offers a full meal of thought and reflection.

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

Old Man Farming

Old Man Farming

Long after his physical capacities have dwindled to pain and stiffening, what drives the solitary old man to continue bringing in the handful of Guernsey cows to milk?

How To Prune

From Dusty Shelves: Pruning Guide from 1917

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 4

Assuming that you’ve found a farm you want to buy, next you’ll need to determine if you can buy it. If you have sold your property, and/or saved your money, and have the means to buy the farm you are sitting pretty. If you do not have the full price of a considered farm, in cash or any other form, you will likely have to look for financing.

McCormick Deering/International No 7 vs no 9

McCormick Deering/International: No. 7 versus No. 9

McCormick Deering/International’s first enclosed gear model was the No. 7, an extremely successful and highly popular mower of excellent design.

Wheel Hoe

The Wheel Hoe: A Tool For Shallow Tillage

When we bought this little farm I soon realized I needed a wheel hoe. The size of the horse and tractor dictated space wasting wide rows in crop production and, to some degree, so does my two wheeled tractor.

Training Workhorses Training Teamsters First Time Hitching

First Time Hitching

More from Lynn R. Miller’s highly anticipated Second Edition of “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “First Time Hitching,” is from Chapter 12, “Follow Through to Finish.”

Old Man Farming

Spinning Ladders

You die off by passing away. You live on by passing on. I want to pass the culture of my life on slowly, over the ripening time of my best years.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

How To Prune a Formal Hedge

How To Prune A Formal Hedge

This guide to hedge-trimming comes from The Pruning Answer Book by Lewis Hill and Penelope O’Sullivan. Q: What’s the correct way to shear a formal hedge? A: The amount of shearing depends upon the specific plant and whether the hedge is formal or informal. You’ll need to trim an informal hedge only once or twice a year, although more vigorous growers, such as privet and ninebark, may need additional clippings.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT