Last month, a few of us went to the Fideldy Apple Orchard south of Grand Rapids and picked / pressed several types of apples for making cider. The Fideldy’s have a really nice screw drive press (powered by hand) that made the job easy and entertaining.
The dolgo crab apples were the most intriguing. These are the little buggers that we ate as kids, and they are quite firm, juicy and tart. There was only one of these trees at the orchard, and we picked it bare. It is tough to get juice from them,but at the orchard, the press had a grinder/pulper to make that job easier. We pressed about 3 gallons of the rosy clear nectar of the gods.
A week later, I found another tree in town loaded with the same kind of crabs that we could harvest. We collected about 150 pounds, but were driven away by a nasty storm before we could complete the job. Brewer Steve F. has a wine press, so we took our apples home and froze them. When thawed, they get really soft, and it is easy to smash them up and get them ready for pressing.
We got together on a cool, sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon (October 16th) at Steve’s place in the country, and set about turning the little dolgo apples into juice. Steve B, Borealbrewers’ master brewer, is pictured here pulping the dolgo apples in a stainless steel kettle. (Pulping post courtesy of Steve F.).
The freeze / thaw process really made them tender, so the pulping process was quite easy. However, it was a bit time consuming as we had to actually aim at them when smashing with the wooden post. Good therapy! Of course we had some homebrew and craft brew to lubricate our minds and muscles.
Steve’s press is simple, elegant and easy to use. The wooden basket is just the right size for the amount of apples we were pressing. We pressed about a quart of mashed apples at a time, separating them by wooden disks. The “pressing” part is done using a 1-ton hydraulic floor jack. Like I said, pretty simple, quite effective, and lots of fun.