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This fall I got my mitts on a friend’s parents’ little cider press. It’s a one-bushel hand crank jobber with a wonky spout, but it gets the job done.

I didn’t keep a super precise tally, but I did weigh several batches of apples – in total I think I processed about a quarter ton of apples into maybe 14-15 gallons of cider. I kept thinking I was done, but then a week later I would see a new tree with a pile of rotting fruit beneath it, and whoops suddenly my panniers were stuffed with apples again.

The most tedious part was feeding the apples piece by piece into the food mill on my KitchenAid. I have a line on a larger grinder to borrow for next year.

Seven gallons made it into cider, as follows.

#1 – Bryant Scrumpy

This was a mix of apples and pears from early to mid-season trees in my neighborhood. The tricky part about making cider from neighborhood apples is that people typically plant eating varieties, which lack the tannins and acids you want in cider. I tried to compensate by adding some crab apples but despite their nice color they were still a little underripe, and actually did some damage to my grinder whoops.

My shipment of pH strips didn’t arrive until it’d been fermenting for a couple of days but the pH at that point clocked in at 3.8.

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.004
~7% ABV

I made 6 gallons of this. Five were fermented plain, the 6th had added herbs – madrone bark, yarrow, and mugwort. Maybe some dandelion roots? I should probably have written that down.

When I bottled the 5 gallon batch last night, I managed to shear off the plastic screw on the tap on the bottom of the bucket. I managed to catch most of the cider in my canning kettle but I’m worried about how much oxygen got in there during the fiasco. Taste is tolerable but not promising. The herbed batch is better, but also not something I’m that excited about.

#2 – Crabby Scrumpy

By early October, the weird little tree by the bike trail that looks and tastes like it might be a piece of rootstock triumphing over human intervention, or possibly a genuine seed-grown sport, was ripe, and so were the crab apples. So I mixed them with later-season eating apples from the neighborhood for a final gallon. Initial pH was 3.4 and the juice did not taste like anything you’d want to drink – very promising indeed.

OG: 1.068
FG: 1.008
~8% ABV

This one tastes like it’s gonna be pretty damn good in a few months. We’ll see.


  1. Lisa wrote:

    Thanks for sharing!
    Youre making vinegar?
    Im interested in making my own, but on the scale of 1-2 persons (lol!).
    We have no apple trees, but i collecr crab apples and this year i find 3 tiny wild trees of unnkown variety apples.
    I made two pies. How do i turn apples into vinegar?

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