Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cider Pressing - Bringing the East Coast to the West

Me filling the jugs of cider.  Look at our cute red tractor hayride in the background!

Making apple cider controls our life right now.  I picked so many apples that they are starting to rot in our garage and it's crunch time.  Making apple cider is a tedious process and so far, we've done it 4 times this season and made over 30 gallons.  Justin says he has only one press left in him, but if he wants to drink more than one measly gallon of cider each month this year he better get a better attitude because he wants to drink it every day! 

The cider press, with the jack and cider bucket
Cider making seems to be more of an east coast thing, kind of like maple syrup collection, so we decided to bring that over since I'm pretty sure maple syrup will never be made in Utah.  First, we cut the apples because all of them come from untreated trees and many of them have worms nestling in the cores.  We chop them open to cut out worms and organize them into apple type so we can formulate our cider better. 

Justin shoving apples down the garbage disposal
Then we take what we want to use and throw them into the most awesome food grinder ever, which is a white plastic tub with a new, never been used for anything else, totally clean garbage disposal, which crushes the apples up and poops them out into a giant pot(sorry for the illusion, but that's exactly what it looks like) which is where the apples get oxidized and turn brown. 

Close-up of the cider flowing out of the hole in the base of the drum.  You can see it pooling off to the right.
Then they get poured into a fine mesh fabric and wrapped up in our cider press.  After a mesh bag is filled, we throw a pressing plate on top and repeat the process until the drum of the press is full, usually about 3 bags.  Then the top plate is set on the top and the hydraulic jack is inserted at the top, secured and as soon as the pumping begins, the cider starts to flow.  We mix it a little, filter out any small pieces that get through and put it into plastic jugs to freeze for the winter.  It really is the most delicious drink.  
Pouring the cider into the jugs.  I'm sure the water down the cider you buy at the store because ours is so rich and tasty compared to others I've tasted.  We treat it like liquid gold.  Yum!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Honey Caramel Apples

I found this recipe and the caramel flavor was excellent but didn't firm up enough to really make good caramel apples out of them.  If anyone tries it, let me know how it turns out for you.  Maybe cook it for longer and see what happens? I used two types of very small apples, one being a crab apple.  I don't think many people really loved the flavor but I'm just sick of the same old thing, so I did something different. I like new things.

  • 6 medium apples (or substitute 8 small apples)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • natural red food dye (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans (preferably soaked and dried)
  • 6 sticks or wooden dowels


  1. Whisk honey, cream, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble, then immediately reduce the heat to medium. Stir in food coloring, adjusting the volume to match the intensity of color you like. 
  2. Continue to whisk the caramel frequently to prevent scorching and to prevent it from bubbling up and out of of your saucepan. Continue to cook until the caramel reaches a temperature of 260 F (about 25 minutes). The caramel should be a rich brown or red-brown if you also used food coloring; the bubbles should be small and should uniformly cover the surface of the pan and the caramel should be thickened.
  3. Prepare an ice bath. Then pour the hot caramel into a mixing bowl and place the bowl in the ice bath, taking care not to splash water into the hot caramel. Stir the caramel until it is uniformly cooled and it begins to thicken just a bit. 
  4. Plunge a wooden stick or dowel into the core of your apples and roll them, one by one, in the caramel until uniformly coated. Roll them in chopped pecans and place them on a piece of parchment paper to cool completely before serving.