It now strikes me funny that I chose the name Sudden Windfall for my apple wine, because that’s truly what I’m getting. Kim’s friend Chris (he of the peaches) gave her 2 giant buckets of apples for me. In fact, in this picture, I’ve already taken out half of the apples in the bucket on the right. (You can also seem the edge of my vermicompost bin here.) So there will definitely be apple-y goodness to drink next year, even if several batches fail.
The other big excitement, after our return from Chicago, was the arrival of my fruit press. It’s a lovely old-fashioned-looking thing but it’s harder to use than I’d anticipated. I need to get a big board to attach it to this weekend, because when I pressed the apples last week, the whole thing kept rotating, so I ended up holding the barrel with my knees while I rotated the arm, and there are now glorious purple bruises all over the insides of my knees. I quartered, shredded, and briefly microwaved (2 minutes per bowlful) the apples and then put them in the press until it was fairly full, and then put the blocks on top, as the instructions direct. From there, I just turned the handle and got lots more juice than otherwise, but that part will be a lot easier when there’s a nice big board I can stand on instead.
Half a bucket of apples yielded about a gallon of juice. I didn’t weigh the apples (largely because my kitchen scale battery ran out and I can’t remember to get a new one) but at a guess, it was in the 15-20 lb. range. Which is kind of a crummy ROI, and I’m sure I’d get more with a fancy hydraulic press, so if I ever go commercial with this, I guess that’s next. Anyway, I used the press on both the new apples and the thawed ones I’d had in my freezer and Mom’s. She was not pleased to have had to keep bags of shredded apple, and when she saw my new haul she immediately told me she couldn’t keep any in her freezer, so the remainder sits on my counter now.
The frozen apples are going to be a 3-gallon batch of apple wine. Everything’s in now– I’m using Champagne yeast for both– and the wine is all fizzy and lovely. I think it may actually be more like 4 gallons now. I followed the directions carefully, but it’s looking like it comes up to the number 4 on the side of the bucket. This would appear to mean that I need to get another 1-gallon secondary fermentor, since I have 2 left, and a gallon of cider going, too. I’ll want one empty so I can rack the other wines easily. I think I still have an empty half-gallon beer carboy somewhere, and I will check everything this weekend to see if anything is ready for bottling yet, but I think that’s not the case. Lots of what I have is clarifying nicely, but it’s also got lots of sediment.
The cider is also nice and fizzy and lovely. It’s a slightly lighter color than the wine, and was fizzing away when I opened it to stir last night. It’s pure juice– no water added– so it smells a lot more of apple. I’m hoping the Champagne yeast makes it ferment dry, since the problem I often have with US hard ciders is that they’re too sweet. (I had a lovely cherry cider at Black Sky over the weekend, when we went to see Igor’s band play Beckie recommended it, and it was tart and lovely.) The cider has less stuff added: Campden, pectic enzyme, sugar, energizer, yeast. I’m a little worried about sparkling it and bottling, but I have some time before that happens. And I might call Katrina for tips when I get to that point.
I still have a very full barrel of apples sitting on the kitchen table! I had to move them because Lily kept trying to steal them. I think what I’ll do this weekend is press the remaining fruit and can it so I can approach the rest of the wine/cider at my leisure. Kim suggests I make the pressed pulp into fruit leather, which I think is brilliant. I also got a lovely surprise box of ripe red jalapenos on the porch last night (Sarah & Tom?), so I hope to can up some salsa, too. Looks to be a busy weekend.