Apple cider making is such an autumn-season activity! I have fond memories of crisp air, colored leaves, rosy cheeks and neighbors gathered around to help with the fruit pressing. Kids climbed the apple trees while some collected from the ground below, adults laughed and joked, the teenage boys showed their muscle power by cranking the press while the girls giggled and pretended not to notice…it was a jolly time of year!
It was everyone’s favorite activity, right?! I miss those gatherings of the past! And while I hope to one day host cider-parties with a full-size press, its not a viable option for us at this phase of life. For lots of us, its not a viable option!
We make due in other, slightly less “romantic” ways.
Today, we have a little electric machine called a “juicer” that does an adequate job for us. While we can’t make copious amounts of fresh-pressed apple juice in this manner, its been enough to supply our need for delicious homemade vinegar, some syrups and a bit of juice to boot!
I’d like to introduce you to……….. (drum roll please!)…………my Champion Juicer! This is make is the battleaxe among electric juicers and is designed to extract liquid from fruits and vegetables (yes, even carrots & beets, etc) for fresh consumption. While it won’t press 50 gallons in a day, we can comfortably make several in a short time. Used ones are relatively cheap and make a great addition to many a home!
But, as with everything, there are a few catches to it!
What You Ought to Know
Champions juicers don’t have a 100% foolproof filter. Between this and the foam apples make, you’ll need to skim and strain your liquid through a cloth before drinking or using in products. This process (though quick) does take extra time. If not you’ll find lots of apple pulp in the finished product due to the intensity of juicer’s grinding. There’s the first straining and also a second. After finishing the first, let the juice sit (refrigerated or not) for several hours. A thick substance will coagulate on the surface. It ought to be skimmed off and tossed.
You’ll have to cut your apples into quarters so they fit in the juicer’s feeder…unless you are processing crab apples. If so, just pop ’em through!
The filter will need to be given a quick rinse every so often. If juice seems to be “foaming” instead of dripping, stop, clean and then carry on. It takes about 15 seconds to do and significantly speeds up the process!
You’ll need a compost container to dump the pulp into. I recommend saving the pulp to make “scrap” apple cider vinegar. The finished product is still good for consumption, but is not so rich in flavor as the straight-up cider. Cleaning vinegar, anyone?
This process will make a bit of a mess (or else I’m just a messy person). Be prepared for it!
- juicer & follow through press
- fresh apples-count on approx 1 C liquid per pound of fruit
- cutting board & knife
- 2 catch containers (one for juice, one for pulp)
- 1 large pulp bowl that you can empty the smaller one into
- a fine muslin cloth, doubled
- jars or a crock
- Rinse apples if needed
- Set up juicer and place catch containers in place
- Set out jars and cloth, along with large bowl for pulp
- Begin slicing apples into quarters. They don’t need to be neat quarters either! Just small enough to fit in the feeder.
- Turn on juicer first (always, always) and then begin feeding apples into mouth. Follow up with the press and watch the juice flow!
- Remember to clean the filter after running 10-15 lbs apples though.
- When pulp catcher builds up, dump into larger bowl.
- When juice catcher fills up, move from under press and skin foam off. Toss into pulp bowl.
- Using a rubber band, place cloth over jars mouth. Pour liquid in and strain.
- Return to the work at hand!
- When juice is collected, let sit (refrigerated or not) for several hours. A thick substance will form on the top. Skim as you would cream off of milk.
- Use liquid however you wish! Note: if letting juice ferment to vinegar, you’ll have scrape the scum every day or so for the first week.
And the leftover pulp? Don’t throw it out! Here’s a quick run-down on how to convert it to vinegar!
Take those apple bits…(an approx 3 gallons of juice leaves behind 1 1/2 gallons of pulp)
…and using your hands, plop it loosely into 2 or 3 one gallon jars. Note: don’t pack!
Cover jar contents with water (approx 27 C) and let set for 12-24 hours. Water should have turned a rich, cider color. While most would think to leave the pulp in the water, apples are too finely ground for this and will float, which leads to mold.
Instead, line the inside of a blanching pot with a cloth and place the insert into a large bowl. Pour liquid and pulp from jars into the cloth and let it seep out. Strain off and let it seep more.
I even got super-creative in my attempt to squeeze out every last bit! Not only are glass jugs handy for storing fully-fermented apple vinegar, but they also make a dandy press!
The pressed apple pulp can be tossed once liquid is extracted or, you can gather up 6-7 C for each gallon jar. Dump it into a cloth and tightly tie off. Place in fermenting container and add extracted apple liquid until container is full. The cloth will bind and keep apple bits from floating to the surface and your ferment will benefit from extra “yeast.”
It seems that the jars with “goods” in the liquid ferment faster than the others. After 2-4 weeks time (depending on temperatures), the cloth-bound apples should be removed. The down side to this method is that you’ll need more fermenting containers because pulp takes space, right?
If you choose to not use pulp, pour extracted juice back into clean gallon jars. Cover with a cloth, secure and then presto! Pop ’em into the pantry and wait for fermentation to occur. For more information on apple cider vinegar, you can check out my post: Apple Cider Vinegar.