Autumn Making: Part One

I have been job-hunting for about a week, and this past weekend was a whirlwind punctuated, this morning, by a bit of an ague (i.e. a tiny, fatiguing, but annoying cold). Please pardon the silence!

What have I been up to? Well! Let me regale you with an increasingly autumnal tale.

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Tom has had the idea in his head for a few months that, when the time came, we would drive down to his parents’ house in Enumclaw and pick their apples to make apple cidre.* I thought he meant apple cidre, the delicious if cloudy juice drink. He thought he meant hard cidre. We arrive now at an impasse: while I like hard cidre, I’ve yet to have a homemade variant I’ve really enjoyed, and so much prefer to have the soft stuff. He, on the other hand, is really very curious about creating alcohol from apples. He has experience in brewing, don’t you know.

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We went down to Enumclaw last Friday when Tom got off work, and picked about 250 pounds of apples off two trees! This was a serious bumper year for apples in Washington State. We also got about 60 pounds from Tom’s friend Ben, who was planning on helping us when it came time to press (it was his uncle’s press, after all).

For two days, our house smelled almost unbearably of apples, and I was really concerned the acetylene off-gassing into the air was going to turn the rest of our food! Obviously, paranoid.

Sunday rolled around, and while I made an apple Dutch Baby to split with Tom for breakfast, he got busy preparing the Pressing Stage (or, our tiny porch, depending on how romantic you’re feeling).

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I kept peeking while cooking to see what he was up to. Sanitizing equipment and apple-prepping, it seems. It seemed to me to be such a tiny press in comparison to the larger mostly homemade one my uncle and I have used every autumn for the past several years. I was skeptical, I’ll admit. I knew it was going to take a long time to get through these apples (and it did).

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Hard at work grading apples, and cutting out the bad parts.
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Some of Ben’s Honeycrisps were a little wormy, so we had to get creative with the knives. Minimal wasting, here!

It was about then that my camera got lost in the absolute chaos of our tiny cottage. I had to roll the rug up because men were in and out with apple-juice covered shoes on, simmering juice, decanting and occasionally spilling it all over the porch. The wasps weren’t too bad, but could’ve been better. We had the hose at the ready to water down the sticky mess every once in a while.

Cidremaking isn’t glamorous, anyway. I got apple juice in my eyes while we ground it in to pommace in the little hopper sort of visible in the press pictures (attached to the back), and spent most of the day cleaning up behind the guys, and making a really delightful stuffed pumpkin for dinner (of course, six people showed up as I pulled it out the oven…). We low-temperature pasteurized the cidre to make sure nobody gets sick, and then threw in some champagne yeast (though you could use any, this is a personal preference).

Ultimately, this resulted in these carboys filled with apple juice and yeast!

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The back one is burbling away merrily, whilst the front one hasn’t decided to start fermenting properly yet. I hope that one works out. Also, it’s really difficult to get a good photo in this kind of semi-darkness. Yeast needs darkness to do its job, so I’d prefer to have potato quality pictures and good yeast activity, than good photos and bad yeast outcome! Ah well!

I did get lucky and go out with Cory to Pacific Fabrics for a bit, amongst other places. I picked up this cute dressmaking book, too (for about half the price of anywhere else I’d seen it, and it’s filled with useful little dressmaking tricks)! It has great little patterns in it that I’m super excited to get making this fall and winter!

*Hello, I’m a Canadian and I spell it with an -re!

 

 

 

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