Today in the Kitchen – Homemade Apple Cider

Oct 2, 2013 | Gardening, Half Way Farm, Potager | 14 comments

No, I haven‘t been around as much as I used to.
Not that I don’t write three posts a day… in my mind.
But my time seems to no longer be my own as my children‘s needs beckon me from 6:30 in the morning ’til about 10 at night when the baby finally really falls asleep.
Joel has had an opportunity to “make a little extra money” the last couple weeks (and I put that in quotes because there is no such thing as “extra money” – something always comes along to gobble it away).  And so I find myself parenting, schooling, farming – toute seule, 16 hours a day for 5 days out of the week.  
Schooling has been profoundly intense.  There aren’t enough hours in the week to teach everything that I have planned.  Everyone has different fortΓ©s – everyone has different struggles – throw into the mix a two year old learning to potty train and a newborn who wants to snuggle all day and well…
My time is no longer my own.
And that’s OK, I just put my blinders on and plow straight ahead.  Soon the baby will be on a schedule, the two year old will wear big boy underwear and I’ll cry that everyone is growing so fast.
There is always something that needs to be done around here and so when Daddy is finally home true family time is difficult to come by and very much coveted.  The other day we found ourselves inside a magical moment under our old, funky appletree.  
I am determined to learn and try whatever I can while we farm, homestead… what ever you want to call it – on these three rented acres.  So, this weekend we experimented with making our own cider.  
There was something absolutely amazing about picking “our own” apples.  Who knows what kind they are.  They don’t taste that great which is too bad because they aren’t too wormy.  They taste like a red delicious for the first three seconds and then turn so tart in your mouth you just about need to spit them out.  Dommage.      
 

We decided to try our hand at making apple cider.  I love cider and wish we had had the chance to pick more.  As it turned out we found the time just as the last apples were ready to fall.  

I am obsessed with the idea of having my own orchard someday on our “big farm”.  In the meantime I will have to make do with our little funky apples.  I also have been scouting out lots of trees in the area that look like they are going to go to waste as part of peoples “landscaping” – I may go stick a couple notes in some front doors asking permission to pick.  

I am sure there are better ways to make cider but we made over 3 quarts from what you see in the basket above by grinding them to almost a pulp (sort of like tapanade sized pieces) in the Cuisinart and then making a double layered square with cheese cloth putting a glob in the middle, wrapping up the corners together and squeezing into a Ball jar. Add autumnal seasonings to taste.  It was so fun!!!  To make your own beverage!  I am so easily pleased… and this made me giddy.

The garden is winding down.  
We’ve brought in a lot of food and we eat from the farm about 75% of two meals a day.  I really don’t know how I am going to make it this winter without our garden.  We have already planned to more than double it’s size next year. I wish we could really go crazy… there is so much wasted space used for worthless GRASS around here.  The landlord has his “yard” that he likes to come a putz with/mow and it’s a shame.   I’d kill to have a 1/2 acre garden or a cow or something – anything but worthless grass.  And then there’s the walnut trees….
I wasted an hour trying to harvest walnuts today.  Along the lines of “when life hands you a farm full of toxic walnut trees make walnut oil”.  But darned if I can get the timing of when to harvest them right – every nut I tried tasted so horrible.  I just really wanted to triumph over those stupid trees and all the damage they caused to the garden.  I don’t know if I mentioned it on the blog, it may have been more of a Facebook thing but our tomatoes and peppers and most of our cucs and blackberries would not grow due to a condition called “black walnut toxicity”  caused by a chemical called juglone that comes from BW trees.  Each tree taints the soil for a 50-80 foot perimeter and we have at least fifty trees in the property.  Just unbelievable.
As soon as I bring in all the carrots (a job I HATE doing) I will have all my food weight totals and I will be doing a post on our R.O.I. for our first year here at Half-Way Farm.  
In the meantime, I will be savoring my little mugs of hot, fresh apple cider… and scouring the internet for the easiest hard cider recipe I can find too!
I’ll be around as soon as I can.
Happy Harvesting-
Angela,
Parisienne Farmgirl  

14 Comments

  1. Bonnie

    Hmm, perhaps the walnuts are bad from your cursing them- Instead of the trees shriveling up and dying, you just got bad nuts. : )
    A great idea for the apples. Our ancient apple tree was loaded this year, so much so that branches were breaking, but they are completely tasteless, and the only thing they’re good for is the deer and geese that eat them.
    I pass so many apple trees that seem to be ignored when I go pick up our raw milk, but I can’t tell which house they belong to, and am to shy to knock on doors to ask about picking.
    Anyway.
    Bonnie ( from FB )

    Reply
  2. Teri

    I am so happy to see you post something! Just said a breath prayer for you to have peace and grace to make it through the days with such a busy life! Keep plugging along and I believe I saw some great pinterest recipes for hard cider yesterday πŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. Lisa Wagner

    My grandfather in England used to make his own hard cider. Dad swears that it was the best he’d ever tasted.

    Your “chickens” are adorable – I can’t believe how big Amelie is now πŸ™‚

    Reply
  4. Christi

    Yummy, fresh cider! I know it must taste fantastic! Are you planning to do any Fall gardening at all? Don’t know how soon y’all get snow there, so don’t know if that would work. We are blessed with a long growing season here in GA & Fall gardening is such a blessing.

    So love reading about your days & everything you have going on! xo

    Reply
  5. Marta Montenegro Martin

    Hang in there Angela. Its sometimes rough with Little Ones and you are doing great! The balance will come, just give God time to verse it to you. As for the garden, I’d love to see more fotos “when you get the time.” My tomatoes were a bust too and I was so sad because I grew them from seed and NOT ONE TOMATO. God bless you today and always. Marta

    Reply
  6. savvycityfarmer

    looks like your decked for autumn too …. LOVE the straw on the porch …
    family fun, and free

    Reply
  7. Chanda

    The cider looks great, I too dream of someday when I have many apple trees and owning my onw antique apple press, if I ever see one for sale at auction, it is going home with me some way or another. We have many walnut trees on our propery also, I plant raised beds within 30 feet of the last tree, the others are not that close, it doesn’t seem to bother anything much this way. I gave up on ground planting several years ago and find the boxes are much more controlled and yield way more. Not good of course for corn, pumpkins etc. I a fabulous cucumber tree with an old tire, an old dead smallish tree, dug a hole in the center and inserted the tree trunk deeply and piled in the dirt and the cukes travel up the trunk with a little help from me and then for the rest of the year I pick cukes from my tree and it is the closest thing I plant to the walnut trees. Don’t give in, it can be done just have to find another way. Keep saving all the good chicken and goat crap heap it up, let it cure and plant away next year. Love the pic of your husband looking thru the tree limbs, very cool and oh my your daughters hair……sooo pretty. Hope you have a great day, no off to read my garage sale hard cider book and enjoy a Redd’s Apple Ale….(great stuff by the way). after your inspiring post.

    Reply
  8. Heather's Blog-o-rama

    That sounds so GOOD πŸ™‚ :)…I had some apple cider in France…with extra something added for sure πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ It was the BEST. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Reply
  9. the Shepherd's farm

    What?! No picture of baby??!! I’m up to my elbows in apples right now and I’m making homemade applesauce. Nothing like it! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  10. ea8bc808-665a-11e2-83cf-000bcdcb5194

    You need to remove the green/brown gooey outer layer of the walnut, I do this by gathering and spreading in the driveway, let the traffic remove it for you, then gather the walnuts store in onion bags in an attic or garage. They need to dry and age alittle before cracking and eating. Generally we don’t crack and use blackwalnuts until closer to Thanksgiving or later.

    If you have a juicer, put the ground pulpy apple stuff thru the juicer to get cider. The only reason I know this stuff is because I am about 5 years ahead of you on this farm stuff. If you are planning on tapping any maple trees in the early spring, time to mark them now. Next year container plant your tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. I have had great luck this way and I live in a woods full of black walnuts

    good luck, Joyce

    Reply
  11. Christy

    Love your “farm” stories..,,,where do you get all your energy? Your decorating on the porch is terrific!

    Reply
  12. shirlgirl

    So enjoyed your newest post. I know you are incredibly busy but I find myself jealous of your facebook that gets your time and wish it were time for the blog. I will get over it but just miss your more frequent posts so much. As for missing your garden through the winter, I have a cousin that puts up a mixture of vegetables from summer and uses them all winter long in vegetable soup. It is the best soup ever. God bless.

    Reply
  13. Γ  la parisienne

    Your cider looks delicious! I would be hoarding every drop.
    I’m sorry to hear about the black walnut trees–I can imagine the disappointment. Have you considered a few raised beds for the peppers? I have some huge black plastic containers from farmers for temporary raised beds, and got some for free and some for a couple dollars at yard sales. They’re not beautiful by any means, but a rustic trellis out of 3 tall branches (like a teepee) shoved into the dirt for supports adds a bit of charm and height to my garden space.

    Hang in there with Joel’s new work schedule. I’m sure the days seem so long doing it all alone.
    Mandy

    Reply
  14. The Girl Next Door

    You can make drying screens for the walnuts. Simply gather them up and let them sit in the sun for a few weeks and the husk comes right off. Once they’re dry store them in a cool dry place. Fresh walnuts are akin to what I am positively sure tire rubber must taste like. Lol (I just stumbled upon your blog and saw this and thought I’d share. We had a bunch of trees as a kid that I spent hours collecting. Lol)

    Reply

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