I didn’t actually get to the racking I intended to do this weekend. Instead, I spent most of the time pressing, canning and drying:
That’s tomatoes, pickled peppers, and salsa, with tomatoes and at least half the jalapenos are from my garden. To the left is an unlovely, un-baked batch of apple leather. (It baked on low overnight, and is still unlovely but all nicely dried out now.) The other half of the jalapenos are the ones from Sarah and Tom, so they’ll get a jar of Sriracha, when I get to it.
I did finish processing the apples, though, this time using knee pads because I am just that sexy. I’m getting better and more efficient at using the press, too, though it does still occasionally slide around alarmingly. I am in the market for a nice free board to mount the thing on, but haven’t found one yet. I think things will be a lot simpler when I can simply stand on the board as I press. I got 4 quarts of juice, which I canned up, since I was in that sort of head-space (canning pun!), apparently. The recipe called for cooking the apples with water, but I didn’t do that. So this is pure juice, in case I opt for another batch of cider, and also since I didn’t want it diluted. My recipes call for juice, after all, and I want to be able to control that.
There was much woe and heartbreak on the part of the dogs, who were barred from the kitchen by the cruel, cruel baby gate. Rose even let out a few squeaky little barks to supplement her pitiful wines. I wrote a dog-tragedy for them in my head as I worked. (“The female human is in the kitchen with apples and WE ARE NOT! Also, it’s kind of vaguely close to dinnertime. *cue sad music* The end. By Lily and Rose.”)
I did the same as last time: quartered the apples, shredded them in batches, and zapped each shredded batch in the microwave for 2 minutes. Then I gave it all a good press, and, since Kim and Beckie had such a good suggestion, I whizzed the pressed apple bits in the food processor to make fruit leather. I made a batch of cinnamon and a batch with added blueberry overnight. Tonight I’ll do a batch with added raspberry and my experimental batch, with a dash of Silas’ special curry from Pepper and Salt in Denmark, Western Australia. The apple juice is enough for 2 more batches of wine or one of cider. I think I’ll opt for wine, since there’s an apple-spice recipe I’ve been eyeing.
And even though I didn’t get to the racking (or finish the final batch of Sriracha– it’s in the fridge, ready for cooking and canning), I did move the apple wine and cider into their carboys. The wine made 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 gallons, so I used the 3-gallon carboy and and a one-gallon growler, leaving some room in both, which I topped off with some Big B’s apple cider (which is really just unfiltered juice, but it’s local and organic). The apple cider– mine, that is, the soon-to-be hard stuff– was a little shy of a gallon, too, so I added a little more sugar and some of the Big B’s juice. Everything is fizzing and bubbling away most satisfactorily, and the house has that nice yeasty smell of wine-making. I love the early part of the fermentation process, when everything is so active and exciting. The part that’s just waiting for stuff to clear isn’t nearly so interesting.
Since I used my last 2 one-gallon growlers, I now either have to rack into a primary bucket, rinse the original growler, and then put the racked wine back in there, or just buy another dang growler. I’ve lost count of how many I have going now, but I do think some batches should be ready for bottling soon. Not the dandelion yet, aggravatingly, but maybe the redcurrant and the blueberry. The crab apple cleared quite quickly, too, so I’ll see what its state is. They have all thrown some sediment, though, so they definitely need a good, clean racking before I bottle.
Oh, and I nearly forgot! Jolyon kindly cleaned up after all my preserving efforts, and made this excellent Blockhenge out of the bits of the fruit press: . I found it waiting on the dining room table and left it up, in case something magical happens when the sun hits it in a particular way.