There are just a few simple steps to making apple cider:
1. Start with 50 bushels of mixed apples from a local orchard – second grade/juice grade (meaning they are smaller, not very uniform, but clean and worm free)
2. Invite your entire family for a weekend of “fun”
3. Clean and sterilize the cider press and connect it to the motor
4. Clean all food grade buckets and barrels (our assortment ranges from 1 gallon jugs, to 5, 10 and 20 gallon buckets)
5. Clean all saved plastic jugs – juice containers, soda bottles and even carboys…as long as they have lids, for keeping cider.
6. Set up an “assembly-line” for efficient work flow, including the following stations:
- Getting apples off wagon into 5 gallon buckets (removing leaves if necessary or sorting out the occasional rotten apple) – this involves eventual crawling into the large bin to reach the bottom apples
- Carrying the 5 gallon buckets of apples over to the press
- Dumping apples into the hopper for shredding (requires a tall person)
- Supervisor to ensure that shredded apples don’t overflow the baskets and moving baskets toward the press mechanism
- Running the (manual) press after apples have been shredded (can be same person who also dumps the apples)
- Catching the pressed cider into suitable containers and then dumping those into larger storage containers
- Water hose, pressure washer and final cleanup station is also a good idea.
Fresh cider only keeps about a week in the refrigerator, at least we never tried to keep it longer. What we can’t drink or give away, we can, using 2 quart jars. The sediment will settle to the bottom, and when we drink it later in the winter, we just carefully pour out the clear juice. This also works great for making mulled cider all winter long! We also use some of the cider for making apple wine.