It was a sunny afternoon, late in November, when I finished the last day of Apple Pressing. The temperature was in the fifty degree range. This is good, because I'm always drenched in water and apple pulp when I process apples. In past years, I have processed apples when it was in the thirties and that is brutal
The pulp that comes out of the apple grinder has a delicious apple aroma. I love the aroma and so do the wasps. Fortunately, I have never been stung when processing apples. I think the wasps are too busy drinking apple juice to get angry!
I pour about nine bushels of apple pulp into the apple press to fill it up. I use a “Hydropress”. This is an apple press that uses water pressure to squeeze the juice from the apple pulp. I get a decent amount of juice from each pressing – around two and a half gallons of juice per bushel of ripe apples.
The Hydropress squeezes the apple pulp against a cloth screen that's placed inside a round, stainless steel screen. This separates the apple juice from the apple pulp. The juice flows out of the press and through another fine screen into buckets. The buckets of juice are then poured into five gallon glass bottles.
An organic, natural yeast is added to the bottles and they are capped with an “airlock”. The airlock prevents oxygen from entering the bottle, but lets carbon dioxide from the fermentation process escape from the bottle.
Then the glass bottles are rolled on a cart into the Cider Room – each five gallon bottle of juice weighs around forty pounds. The Cider Room is kept at a comfortable seventy degrees Fahrenheit – a cozy temperature for the active yeast that will convert the sugar in the apple juice into alcohol (the first step in making vinegar).
So now, it is the end of the Fall Season and the apple juice is merrily bubbling in the warm cider room. The apple harvest and apple pressing is finally over. For the month of December, I can rest a bit. I let nature take its course (with a little help from your friendly neighborhood vinegar brewer) as the apple juice ferments into Apple Cider.
But the cold months of Winter are coming and that means the apple trees will need pruning. And so, one season ends and another begins.