Cider Pressing: Summer CSA ’11 – Week 16

 In CSA Newsletter

One of the cool things about being a farmer is that even if you don’t grow a certain fruit or vegetable, odds are you know someone who does. This weekend the Brings family invited us to come to their house and make apple cider.  They have a beautiful piece of property out in Blue Mounds dotted with apple and pear trees. They aren’t farmers by trade and so they don’t really have a place to take all of their apples and pears to sell. Not wanting them to go to waste, they asked if maybe we would be interested in rounding up a crew to help pick apples to make cider over the weekend. Most definitely!

First we consulted the Packer schedule. I’m serious. With a noon game and an afternoon napper, we decided Sunday morning was cider time. At nine a.m. we bombarded their home with some friends and began the task of picking apples. Meanwhile, John and his brother began cleaning out their old press.

Apples into the hopper

If you’ve never seen one, old apple cider presses are really smart, beautiful pieces of equipment. There’s a hopper on top and whole apples get tossed in. Through the hopper they fall into a grinder and then the big chunked up pieces of apple fall down into an open-slatted cylinder. Once that’s full, you push it forward to the press. A press is basically just a circular piece of wood that one tightens down like a screw. It literally presses down on the chunked bits of apple and the cider pours out of the open slats.

It didn’t take very long for Zea to figure out where to hold her little cup – right under the cider tap.

zea supervising the bottling

While Zea drank her body weight in cider, the rest of us picked apples. This was really fun. We would place a huge tarp under a tree.  One person would climb up the tree and shake the branches from above. Plunk. Bonk. Thunk. Down the apples would come. Once the all clear was given, others would pick up apples off the tarp and put them in crates. Then crates were hauled up to the press. Repeat.

All in all somewhere around 50 gallons of cider were made. Everyone went home with a bunch of bottles full. What a wonderful way to spend a misty Sunday morning – friends, fetching dogs, tree climbing, kids, cool old machines, and of course – delicious cider.  Zea was amped up from all the fun and cider. One the way home, she talked non-stop in the car for 8 straight minutes, and then complete silence. She passed out mid-sentence.  A 2.5 hour, deep cider sleep ensued.

We’d let you taste some of our cider at the party this weekend, but we think we’ll leave the fresh cider up to the real pro – Ela Orchard. Sly transition to the party, eh? We’ve told you a bunch about it already, so I won’t repeat details. (You can find them here). We would love for you to come!

In your box this week you will still find tomatoes. Yay! Despite the frost last Wednesday night, they are still producing. The vegetation acted like a little blanket and kept many of them undamaged. It’s a great week to make chili – see my recipe on right. New this week is spaghetti squash. The squash gets its name because once it’s cooked, the flesh is very stringy and noodle like. Traditional ways to eat it include serving it with butter and herbs or serving it with tomato sauce. I added a recipe this week that is a variation on the theme. Enjoy!



In the Box:

  • Garlic
  • Leek
  • Onion, Red
  • Pepper, Mixed Bell
  • Pepper, Carmen
  • Potatoes, Yellow
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes, Heirlooms
  • Tomatoes, Slicers

REGs = Regular members only

EOs = Everyother members only

This Week’s Recipes:

Week 16: Wednesday, September 21st – Everyother Group B