2022 Apple Harvest and Pressing

It’s that time of year again. 600lbs of apples sweating in the garage for a few weeks. Crush will be In a week or so. Then followed by pressing and a couple of bottles of sweat cider, and the rest to fermentation.

Last year my yield was low, I hope to double or triple it through a different crush process this year.

Since I made a new masher, I was able to double the yield from 2021. We got about 35gal of juice this year. Enough to make four different varieties and have a bit of simple cider left over to give away.

We had four varieties this year:

  • Pippin Crisp – a single varietal cider. Quite sour but is mellowing with time.
  • Just Cider – a multi varietal cider. Unfortunately this cider didn’t have enough sugar for the yeast and it became stressed and ended up being drinkable-but-funky
  • Guava Treat – a multi varietal cider back sweetened with guava nectar. Turned out quite nice with fruity hints of guava – not not to sweet.
  • Holiday Spice – the same multi-varietal cider back sweetened with holiday spices. This too was quite delicious and is getting better with time.

Apple Pressing

We (me) couldn’t wait two weeks for the apples to sweat. Good that we moved on it now, the apples were perfect.

We used 4 bushels of Gravenstein, one of Whitney crab apple and one of mixed apples consisting of honey crisp, snow and jazz apples.

Today we processed six bushels of apples – about 240lbs. Washed, de-wormed, cut rotten sections out, ground, pressed and… enjoyed fresh unadulterated apple juice.

We got about six gallons of juice, 5.5 is prepped for fermentation while we are enjoying the other half gallon just to sip now.

Acids were at .775% so we brought it down to .65% Sugars were at 15%

Tomorrow morning we will put the yeast in and the fermentation will commence.

Between all of the prep, processing and cleaning, it was a good 5-6 hours. But we had a good time.

1-2 weeks after the yeast goes in, we move it to secondary fermentation where it will sit for 4-6 months. Then on to bottling and another fermentation for another 4-6 months. This time next year we will be enjoying our first batch of cider.

Apple Harvest

Getting close to pressing. Waiting two weeks to sweat the apples for flavor – although the three bushels we collected today and one yesterday are probably ready to press now.

Fermentation stage one will take 1-2 weeks and then another four months for stage two and clarification. Then to bottling for 6-12 months. Once of the downfalls of a new cider maker is the impatience. We will have to see how long I last.

What to do with all of the apples?

On to another adventure.

Since we live in Sonoma County, every summer & fall, it’s harvest season for apples. Gravensteins are the locally known varietal with significant influance from the famed botanist Luther Burbank.

That paired with my love for hard cider, we will be pressing apples this year. Last year I made a press with some plastic buckets and while it worked, it was messy.

This year, we have a propper fruit press and are planning the harvest and processing appropriately with dedicated gear and space.

One of our trees is an early variety of Whitney crab apple – deliciously crisp with the tight balance of tartness and sugars which we harvested today We go 40lbs from a five foot tree – leaving a few apples for the birds.

We have also sources through friends 300lbs or so of apples of different varieties to harvest later in the season.

The apples are now in storage to build some additional sugars and then to pressing.