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.
- Buy apples (basically so many apples that it’s overwhelming)
- Invite friends (think like Tom Sawyer, more people=less work for you!)
- Make good food (this way your friends can’t blame you when they feel used)
- 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.
Then, excited for any opportunity to entertain people, I made some adorable snacks for the party:
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.
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!