I'm lucky enough to live in apple country and when I heard that my friends were bottling their hard cider, I invited myself along for the fun! While I really intended on helping with the labor, I actually ended up being there for moral support/ sample taster/ food eater. And while I was given a thorough explanation of the process, I can't quite seem to remember the technique as I took my sample tasting job quite seriously. So it went something like this...
When we arrived, there was a pick-up truck stacked high with about a thousand empty bottles. We were to take the bottles out and wash them using this stacky contraption that has a water spout on top. When you push the bottle down, a water solution squirts inside the bottles to sanitize them. Then you place them on the rack to dry.
See, that's me on the left sampling and holding the drying rack. Multitasking.
This accordian like thingy is an apple mash squoosher. I didn't see it in action but I hear it's quite exciting.
This is Kim, my folklorist friend, who is documenting the life and times of the the modern farmer. I'm sure she has a better description for what she does. The message is more like, "You should be good to farmers, they keep us fed and so hug them."
Anyway, after the bottles have dried you need to put a little sugar in the bottle. The sugar feeds the yeast and then bubbles are born. I think. If you put too much sugar in, then the bottle could explode on account of too many bubbles being born. And so we can all blame Kim if our cider explodes because that was her job. Sugar-putter- inner.
Some sort of stuff happening here but don't know what it could be. Looks a bit moonshine-y though.
Look at this gorgeous thing here. #HandmadeCraftiness. Could be a tiny engine?
Here's Paul, let's call him the Cider Master. He's the one that was in charge of the whole concoction. You have to keep the barrels at a certain temperature for the fermentation process to work. Otherwise, the whole thing goes to pot and that would be sad. You also have to put a layer of CO2 on top of the stuff while it's fermenting but I got a little fuzzy when this was being explained so you'll have to look it up. Or ask Paul.
Here's the lovely Shannon. She was the hard workiest of all. She would siphon the cider into a smaller bucket from where she would siphon that into the bottles. She also brought a crock pot of homemade soup and so I love her.
Here is Mr.
He likes to help too. And sample. And eat. See how each bottle is hand filled. That's one thousand of those suckers. Each one loved and cared for.
After the cider is in the bottle, you have to find a brawny farmer to push the bottle cap on it. Luckily, Shannon's husband Matt was all "that's my job". Hopefully, he pushed them on real tight because of that whole explodey thing.
And that was it. The end.
We were gifted a case of this amber loveliness and told to wait about a month to drink it. Although, I'm not sure that we'll get to a month. We will try and save at least one for Christmas day.
If you would like to visit Shannon and Matt's Hollin Farms, click on the link. It is the most wonderful pick-your-own farm in the Delaplane, VA area. And they are such wonderful people!