Here at Raintree Nursery we enjoy making apple cider each October. We use a Cider Press to extract the juice from the apples, ours is made by Correll. They are hand made and do have a waiting list. Often you can find a community cider pressing event in your area. At Raintree we are making cider this year on October 26.
This year fruit set better than last year in our orchard, but some varieties did not set well. In addition, fruit have been ripening 2-3 weeks later than usual and we are not sure whether the latest apples will ripen in time for our cider making day. We will provide as much variety as we can for the cider pressing, but will not have all of our usual favorites. Please do not bring any apples to Raintree because of the possibility of spreading apple maggot and coddling moth.
We start harvesting ripe apples several weeks before we’re ready to make the cider, different varieties ripen at different times. The apples are stored in a cooler at about 40° F, or they could be stored in any cool dry place protected from rodents. We label each box of apples.
The apples are washed with a fruit and vegetable wash product available at the grocery store. Apples that are heavily infested with apple maggots or scab are discarded.
We find the best cider is made by mixing sweet and tart varieties, which makes a delicious full-bodied cider. If you note which combination of varieties you use to make each batch of cider, you can develop your own favorite house blend. On average ten pounds of fruit makes one gallon of cider.
We toss the apples into the grinder on the press. The ground apples fall into a tub. When the tub is full the pomace (ground fruit) is pressed, thereby releasing the juice. The juice pours into a mesh covered container that removes any remaining solids. It’s then ready to drink or preserve. Unfortunately sweet cider (non-fermented) doesn’t keep for long, even in the refrigerator, but it can be canned in a water bath to be preserved or it can be frozen. If you ferment it without adding yeast it will often turn into vinegar.
To make hard (alcoholic) cider, pour the juice into a large glass (carboy) container with a narrow neck. We add champagne yeast and then put a cork airlock in the top of the carboy. For more details please consult the cider making book below.
What is the difference between juice and cider? Juice is extracted from the fruit with heat and cider is extracted with pressure.
If you’re really serious about making apple cider, we recommend you read Cider Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider (#S340).