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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pressing Apples: Autumn in the Palouse

What would autumn be without apples?  Harvests?  Crisp air that mimics the bite of that perfect honeycrisp?

I love autumn, and I love where I live.  In eastern Washington it's farm country, and while we celebrate every harvest here (we even have a National Lentil Festival) it's apple harvest that's my favorite.  Why?  I get to wear sweaters, autumn leaves are beautiful and fresh pressed cider is amazing.

A few weeks ago I went with some friends to Bishops' Orchard to press cider.  They have old fashioned apple presses, so it's all done with your own sweat and toil.  You wash the apples, chop them up, and then press them to make juice.  One bucket is ~ 1 gallon, more or less.  From these gallons I am making hard cider.  Hard cider is so easy.  Fill your carboy with 5 gallons apple juice.  Crush up 1 campden tablet for each gallon, add those to neutralize the local yeasts and bacteria.  Boil a little honey in water, add that.  Wait a few minutes, add a white wine yeast.  Done.  Really, that's it.  After brewing beer for so many years it's a welcome change.  So... easy!

Well, I had one extra gallon that I knew what I wanted to do with: I made apple syrup.  All you do is boil down 1 gallon of apple juice to about 1 quart of syrup.  Just leave it on the stove, cooking away.  The sweetness all comes from the natural flavor of the apples.  I then added 1 jigger of whiskey for preservative.  So simple.

It's still harvest time out there!  We haven't had a deep enough freeze to kill the apples, so everyone go out and get your fresh pressed juice!