Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day - and a fun one, too. One of our neighbors invited us (and many of his other friends and neighbors) over to make cider.
We weren't sure what to expect, so we wandered over around noon, and stepped in to help. I first joined a couple of people who were chopping apples.
There was a big tub of them, but it looked like we were making pretty good progress.
Then I looked around the corner and saw this. This was a serious cider-making operation. They'd started about 9 AM, and went through at least six bags of apples before I took this picture.
Cider making turns out to be a simple, if labor-intensive, process. The chopped apples - stems, peels, cores, and all - first get mashed in a mill. This may have been the messiest part of the process, because the apples had to be guided through, and the pulp would go everywhere.
Once the apples were mashed, they went into the press. They'd press by hand first, and then use the screw. It was kind of surprising to see what a difference the apple variety made for juice yield. Courtland apples produced just a little juice, but Jonathans freely yielded a lot of it.
Most of the cider is going to be fermented, so it went into a carboy...
and a keg. Aaron made a cyser a couple of years ago, and it was a complicated process - more like winemaking. We're just now enjoying the results.
This cider is going to naturally ferment, using whatever yeast was present on the apples and in the air. There were some bottles of last year's, and it was a tart, very fizzy drink - almost like an apple Champagne. Apparently you never know what you're going to get, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.
The results will be in soon - this style of fermenting just takes a couple of weeks. I hope we'll get a chance to see how it turns out! We were able to bring a bottle of the fresh cider home, so we'll enjoy that in the next day or two. The whole day was a fun way to get to know some of our neighbors, and the dogs (especially Max!) had a great time acting as the apple clean-up crew.
Yesterday was also a knitting day. The Hogwarts swap has a competitive element, and the first pattern came out yesterday. So I spent the evening knitting - only to lose by 27 minutes. I'm kind of sorry I skipped dessert to knit, but perhaps my sweet-looking hat will be some consolation. This Wizardly Incognito Cap is made from Cascade 220, on Size 6 needles. I hadn't planned candy corn at first, but when I realized that the yellow & orange I pulled were candy corn colors, I decided to go ahead and add the white, and have the excuse to knit nice wide stripes. So yes, that's another project started - but it's also another project finished. I think I really will be able to turn to finishing things now - or at least in a day or two. Between the apple mashing and the knitting, I'm pretty sore today.