Once they’re inside, they go through a grinder. Nothing is separated out–the entire apple is ground into a kind of a thick paste, which is then spread onto a tray, wrapped in cloth, and stacked on the press.
Here’s the press. They hit a button and that white tray at the bottom starts to move up, crushing the apples (which are inside the brown cloths you see layered here) and causing juice to run out on all sides into the bottom of the tray, where it feeds into a hose and goes straight into a bottle. Then the fun begins.
‘Pink Pearl’ is a popular apple in Humboldt County for its bright pink flesh. These are two jars of ‘Pink Pearl’ cider, one a darker red than the other because he used a different yeast. The rest are all more of a typical golden apple cider color.
Apple vomit! Actually, this is the dry, crushed remains of the apples after they’ve been through the press. It gets dumped in the orchard to become compost.
The fresh juice is fabulous–floral, complex, and not at all like that stuff you get at the supermarket. He has no idea what the cider will be like after its fermentation, since this is the first year to experiment with all these toys. He’s not adding an extra sugar this year, which may keep the alcohol content down, but will also let the flavor of the apples come through.
It’s an amazing operation to watch, and a glorious fall ritual. I am seriously tempted to plant another apple tree this winter, if only I can decide what to evict from the garden to make room.