In early December I got to help out a friend with the last cider press of the apple season. Our friend Nat West has been crafting his own cider and hard cider for a few years now from gleaned, traded and orchard picked local apples and this year was the biggest. He thinks his total apple haul this year clocks in at about 5,800 pounds, which translates to roughly 500 gallons of cider.
This year's apples included a mix of Newtown Pippins, Lady, Jonagold, Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Brown's Apple, Hereford Redstreak plus about 1,000 pounds of mixed varieties gleaned from various local spots. I helped out with the last of the Newtown Pippins -- about 250-300 pounds.
The agreement was (and is with a lot of Nat's friends) that in exchange for helping out for a shift of apple milling and pressing I'd get to take home a carboy of that day's cider. I thought that sounded great and I was really happy to get to work with and learn more about Nat's awesome set-up.
Basically, Nat mills his apples with a retrofitted garbage disposal and presses them with a hydraulic press in his garage. Apples are stored and rinsed in bins and buckets in the driveway and once the juice is pressed it's kept in 55-gallon drums in the basement during fermentation and then stored largely in kegs. Nat lets his cider go anywhere from six to eight months.
Nat doesn't sell his cider he just drinks it and trades with it. Really good stuff. Here are some photos...