As Labor Day approaches and students return to school, I look forward to the Fall crisp air and the changing of the leaves. I long for my apples that are turning from blush to red, to be ripe and sweet. My thoughts and musings go to the project I have been planning since last year's apple harvest - building my own cider press. There are a myriad of designs and suggestions online on the best way to build a press and how to make cider. My favorite site and where my inspiration came for making my own press is http://www.whizbangcider.com.
Mr. Kimball is a throwback to the creative genius of agriculture America. How do you make things work better? When it comes to cider pressing he is the online eminent authority. He has done his research and the parts he makes has improved on the cider making process and brought back to the public small scale cider pressing. In early America, cider pressing was an annual event that farms and communities participated in. Cider, hard and sweet, was a necessity. Clean water was, at best, a hard won commodity and a reliable source for a beverage that could be found in the apples that reliably grew in the northeast. Apples were a miracle crop in that they provided so much for the early settlers. Beyond cider, both sweet and alcoholic, there was apple vinegar used for cooking and preserving, and apples for eating, drying and sauce. My mother would make apple butter which the early settlers also enjoyed. Few crops yielded as much as the family orchard- even the peels and mash could be fed to the hogs or composted. So I look to building my own press. The pressing plates and parts I will probably order from Mr. Kimball. The rest I will create as my predecessors may have done. I have the screw head from an antique press. I now need to procure some nice quarter-sawn oak for the stand. Hopefully over the next few weeks I will post the project results.