Sunday was Apple Day at our local organic farm and farm shop. They were not promoting their apples or anyone else’s apples. It was simply an opportunity for the local community to take their apples to be pressed and make lovely scrummy apple juice.
We jumped at the chance. We only have 2 apple trees in the garden, both inherited. One is a crab apple tree and the other we realised this year is an eater. However the apples ripen late, and are quite large, so many fall to the ground before they are ready to been picked. This year we have a bumper crop on the tree whereas last year we had just one or two. So we already had quite a lot of fallers waiting processing. I had been cooking large quantities of stewed apple for our tummies and for the freezer. You can become slightly fed up peeling apples.
So we scrummaged around for some glass bottles we could sterilise – not an easy job in this age of recycling. We managed just three wine bottles. Next conundrum – how many apples to take?
Well we didn’t take enough. As we only had a relatively small amount of apples we were asked to use the hand operated crusher. This was great fun as the turning allowed my son to exercise his ’Popeye’ muscles to produce small chunks of apple. Next came the real entertainment as the pressing of the apples took place. Yet again my son took over and turned and turned and turned. They all get piled into the press, the clamp is wound down onto to them and hey presto the juice begins to flow. In our case it flowed beautifully, but we only managed just over a bottle of the juice. However the process of apple juice making is infectious.
So off we went home and found a few more fallers and picked more apples. We shifted contents of various bottles around to create some empty glass bottles and back we went. Our new load did not match most families crates and sacks full of apples, but we knew we would had enough for all our apple juice needs in the next couple of weeks. This time we used the electric masher, a rather impressive, if scary machine. This mashed the apple into much finer pieces and seemed to create much more juice from the apples. Our grand total was 8 bottles of the lovely brown liquid. A most productive and enjoyable day.
Apple days tick the boxes for a family day out in some many ways:-
- Great way to bring the community together.
- Solves the problem of what to do with all those apples, especially the fallers.
- Fresh air and activity in abundance whilst pressing the apples.
- A feeling connection with nature, crafts from the past and where your food comes from.
- Saving apples that may otherwise go to waste and making apple juice with minimum carbon footprint.
The juice, of course doesn’t last for ever, so I was pleased to see a recipe for apple caramel on TV this week. Just keep boiling and boiling the juice until it is really reduced, then add a knob of butter and you will have produced a really lovely caramel sauce.