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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: How-To & Plans

"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.

Portable A-Frame

Portable A-Frame

by:
from issue:

These portable A-frames can be used for lots of lifting projects. Decades ago, when I was horselogging on the coast I used something similar to this to load my short logger truck. Great homemade tool.

Horseshoeing Part 3A

Horseshoeing Part 3A

An examination should be made while the animal is at rest, and afterwards while in motion. The object of the examination is to gain accurate knowledge of the direction and movements of the limbs, of the form and character of the feet and hoofs, of the manner in which the foot reaches and leaves the ground, of the form, length, position, and wear of the shoe, and distribution of the nail-holes, in order that at the next and subsequent shoeings all ascertained peculiarities of hoof-form may be kept in mind and all discovered faults of shoeing corrected.

Horseshoeing Part 2B

Horseshoeing Part 2B

If we observe horses moving unrestrained over level ground, we will notice differences in the carriage of the feet. Many deviations in the line of flight of hoofs and in the manner in which they are set to the ground occur; for example, horses heavily burdened or pulling heavy loads, and, therefore, not having free use of their limbs, project their limbs irregularly and meet the ground first with the toe; however, careful observation will detect the presence of one or the other of these lines of flight of the foot.

Build Your Own Butter Churn

Build Your Own Butter Churn

by:
from issue:

Fresh butter melting on hot homemade bread… Isn’t that the homesteader’s dream? A cheap two-gallon stock pot from the local chain store got me started in churn building. It was thin stainless steel and cost less than ten bucks. I carted it home wondering what I might find in my junk pile to run the thing. I found an old squirrel cage fan and pulled the little motor to test it. I figure that if it could turn a six-inch fan, it could turn a two-inch impeller.

Pulling A Load With Oxen

an excerpt from Oxen: A Teamster’s Guide

The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

Cultivating Questions: The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

It took several incarnations to come up with a satisfactory design for the bottom heated greenhouse bench. In the final version we used two 55 gallon drums welded end-to-end for the firebox and a salvaged piece of 12” stainless steel chimney for the horizontal flue. We learned the hard way that a large firebox and flue are necessary to dissipate the intense heat into the surrounding air chamber and to minimize heat stress on these components.

Chicken

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Livestock Guardians

Introducing Your Guard Dog To New Livestock And Other Dogs

When you introduce new animals to an established herd or flock, you should observe your dog’s reactions and behavior for a few days. Since he will be curious anyway, it is a good idea to introduce him to the new animals while he is leashed or to place the new animals in a nearby area.

Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide

How to Store Vegetables

Potatoes may be safely stored in bits on a well drained spot. Spread a layer of straw for the floor. Pile the potatoes in a long, rather than a round pile. Cover the pile with straw or hay a foot deep.

Horse Powered Snow Fencing and Sleigh Fencing

Horse Powered Snow Fencing and Sleigh Fencing

by:
from issue:

We were planning on having our cattle out in a sheltered field for the winter but a busy fall and early snows meant our usual fencing tool was going to be ineffective. Through the grazing season we use a reel barrow which allows us to carry posts and pay out or take in wire with a wheel barrow like device which works really well. But not on snow. This was the motivation for turning our sleigh into a “snow fencer” or a “sleigh barrow”.

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

from issue:

Before starting to plow a field much time can be saved if the field is first staked out in uniform width lands. Methods that leave dead furrows running down the slope should be avoided, as water may collect in them and cause serious erosion. The method of starting at the sides and plowing around and around to finish in the center of the field will, if practiced year after year, create low areas at the dead furrows.

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

by:
from issue:

Making a pair of tongs was a milestone for a lot of blacksmiths. In times gone past a Journeyman Smith meant just that, a smith that went upon a journey to learn more skills before taking a masters test. When the smith appeared at the door of a prospective employer, he/she would be required to demonstrate their skills. A yard stick for this was to make a pair of tongs.

Blacksmithing Secrets

Blacksmithing Secrets Part 2

by:
from issue:

One of the main advantages of having a forge in the farm shop is to be able to redress and make and temper tools like cold chisels, punches, screw drivers, picks, and wrecking bars. Tool steel for making cold chisels and punches and similar tools may be bought from a blacksmith or ordered through a hardware store; or it may be secured from parts of old machines, such as hay-rake teeth, pitchfork tines, and axles and drive shafts from old automobiles.

Moving Bees

Moving Bees

by:
from issue:

Moving beehives from one location to another is often a necessary step in apiary management. Commercial beekeepers routinely move large numbers of hives often during a season, to pollinate crops, avoid pesticide applications or to utilize specific honey flows. Beekeeping hobbyists may also move bees to distant honey flows or pollination sites, or to bring home a newly purchased hive.

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

by:
from issue:

Yogurt making is the perfect introduction into the world of cultured dairy products and cheese-making. You are handling milk properly, becoming proficient at sanitizing pots and utensils, and learning the principles of culturing milk. Doing these things regularly, perfecting your methods, sets you up for cheese-making very well. Cheese-making involves the addition of a few more steps beyond the culturing.

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.

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