The Cider Press Rules

Apples, apples everywhere

Did you catch a hint of John Irving in that title? If you did, we must be kindred spirits. The Cider House Rules is one of my favorite books, and every time I started typing anything about cider, it kept popping into my head. I couldn’t shake it.

Anyways, if it were required of me to make rules for a cider press party, it would be a simple task.

  1. Buy apples (basically so many apples that it’s overwhelming)
  2. Invite friends (think like Tom Sawyer, more people=less work for you!)
  3. Make good food (this way your friends can’t blame you when they feel used)
  4. Spend the afternoon drinking beer and making delicious fresh-pressed cider

It’s that easy! And, when you see all of the glorious fresh cider come pouring out, it’s also pretty damn exciting.

Here’s some scenes from my first cider press party, which took place the weekend before Halloween.

First off, my husband and I bought about 40 pounds of apples from a local nursery. They were hosting their annual apple tasting and all varieties of apples were .99 cents. We went a little crazy.

Fall foliage at the Portland Nursery

Cider apples

Then, excited for any opportunity to entertain people, I made some adorable snacks for the party:

Cheese plate (complete with an “apple” cheese ball!)

Yes, that is an apple made of cheese (a mix of sharp white cheddar and cream cheese, rolled in sweet paprika with a pretzel stem). I was so very proud.

I also made an incredibly delicious bread and tomato gratin that will be appearing in a future post. Since it wasn’t my recipe, I don’t feel like it sounds braggy to say it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Ever! So, yeah, be on the lookout for that later this week. It’s too good to pass up! Anyways, here’s my little snack station, with a mix of sweet and savory goodies.

I was also very proud of my carved pumpkin (it’s a ghost in a window holding a candlestick).

After ample chilling/mingling time, we got to work washing, cutting and grinding the apples. Then we loaded up the press and…well…pressed! It was easy in the beginning — the first four-quart container filled up before we even put any pressure on the fruit. But after that it took some serious manual labor. (This is also why you should invite over friends who are stronger than you are!)

Once we were done, about two hours later, we removed the compacted apple from the press. It had the consistency of cork and came off in huge chunks. My friend DB took it all home, with big plans to do some fermenting. He always has strange and unusual projects going on in his basement, so I really don’t ask too many questions.
Basically I was just overjoyed with the end result — tons of cider! I spent most of the day in an apple-induced haze of happiness, especially when I realized we ended up getting close to three gallons of liquid gold!

I have been drinking it every night, heated up with a splash (or two) of Applejack. It is so good! My husband and I also did a little fermenting of our own — we have three growlers filled with what will hopefully become hard apple cider. Cross your fingers that in three weeks we don’t end up with three jugs of apple cider vinegar!

20 thoughts on “The Cider Press Rules

  1. Nice! I love that you bought 40 pounds of apples because they were a good deal. I would totally do that. Your table–and the cider press–look amazing. Hostess with the mostess:-)

    • Thanks! I love nothing more than an excuse to make a plateful of appetizers for a party. And I probably would have bought even more apples if we could have carried them to the car! =) It was so hard to resist all the bins of pretty pretty produce.

  2. I LOVE THIS! Will you invite me over someday for a cider pressing party, puh-lease?! πŸ˜€ I have yet to taste the real thing fresh! Though I must admit that your apple cheese ball is super cute and I love that the outside is rolled in paprika, that sounds like a great enhancement to the cheese. Did you buy the white cheddar and cream cheese mixed already? If not, how’d you do it?

    • Heck yes — see rule #2! =) I’m still on an apple high — so happy it tasted as good as I hoped it would, especially with that splash of Applejack. The apple cheese ball was so easy. I took grated sharp cheddar and just mixed it with the cream cheese until I liked the consistency. I also added minced shallots and some lemon zest/juice, then just mashed it with a fork until it was fairly smooth — I’m sure a food processor would have made it super easy but I didn’t feel like cleaning it! Oh, and chill it before shaping it into a ball or else it’s too messy. If you google it, you’ll find some tutorials. It was a huge hit!

      • Oh yay, I’m a friend! πŸ˜›

        I’m so dang jealous! Not sure how feasible this is in Southern CA, I need to invade someone’s house who has all the equipment next time I travel πŸ™‚

        Oh yum! I love all the additions! I will be sure to try it and link it back to you πŸ™‚ Thanks again!

  3. You’ve caught the bug ! Making hard cider / apple juice is a ball. My husband and his friend collect apples in the fall (we live in WA state, so it’s easy just to knock on someones door and ask). This year they pressed 100 gallons using a homemade hydraulic car jack press attached to the air compressor in the garage. His brew this time is going to be a honey mead with apple juice base. LOVE the honeycomb on the cheese platter (hubby raises bees too).

    • Yea, we need to find some folks nearby who aren’t using all theirs Or, I’ll bet we could do even better on the price if we made a day trip to Hood River. Even if that requires stopping by the Double Mountain Brewery.

    • Yeah, I’m already itching to do it again next year! One of my friends did the “collecting around town” thing and she got 25 gallons out of the deal by the time they were done! All free, so it’s definitely worth the effort. Next year I’ll have to try that out. The honey mead sounds amazing too! Mine is coming along okay — it’s getting boozy but the flavor is pretty mild. But for a first time, it’s pretty impressive! =)

  4. What a cool party that must have been! Looks like fun…oh, and by the way – The pumpkin is fantastic and I love the ceramic cat grinning at your yummy snack buffet! πŸ™‚

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  7. What an adorable apple cheese ball! My problem is that if something’s too cute, I feel bad about eating it. Lame, huh? Whenever the fall apple fest at Portland Nursery hits I’m always drooling over snagging some Mutsus for experimenting but I should take a page from your book and think big. How long did it take you guys to go through all those gallons of cider?

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  9. I know already commented on this (two years ago!) but I remembered it when we had fresh-pressed cider two weekends ago. We decided we must own a cider press, but ouch they can be spendy online. Would you tell me more about how you got yours? I also saw plans for building one, but we can hardly keep up with day-to-day, so I don’t see us having time for a project of that scope. But holy cow I must have it so fresh-pressed cider is at my command at all hours of the day. That stuff was dreamy! But I’m preaching to the choir, yes? πŸ˜‰

    oh, and p.s. Do you remember how the hard cider turned out?

    • We actually got our cider press as a hand-me-down from my husband’s job. Sadly we left it at the restaurant when he switched jobs because we didn’t have room for it at home. Terrible idea because it’s gone forever and I have been regretting it ever since. =( The hard cider was good but in all honesty, I preferred just the fresh pressed. I’ll leave the alcoholic stuff to the pros!

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