We began making cider four or five years ago. When I say cider, I mean hard cider. It is a peculiarity of Americanese that we have to clarify the term. Anywhere else in the English-speaking world, cider means a fermented apple beverage (alcohol!). Here in the US, however, it has become synonymous with apple juice. Both of us were quite fond of the ciders we'd encountered in our overseas travel, particularly those of England and France. Living near a great apple growing region (Henderson County, NC), we decided to take up the hobby of making cider with local apples. Sadly, most of the commercially-available apples aren't that good for cider. What's good for cider is often not that great for eating, so there's not much of a market for cider apples. The need to generate our own supply of strange and sometimes nearly inedible apples provided much of the impetus for us to leave our log cabin in the oak woods and buy a farm with room to plant an orchard.
Fast forward to this autumn. Our young orchard of heirloom cider varieties is not yet producing apples and most of the existing trees on the property did not produce apples this year. Apple trees left to their own devices are naturally inclined to produce biennially. Between last year's great crop and a heavy pruning last winter (a first step toward encouraging yearly apple production), we had few apples to work with. The exceptions being Old Creaky (or the Snake Tree as loyal readers may know it) which we didn't bother to prune assuming it was a goner and our wonderful stand of native crabapple trees which seem to produce yearly no matter the conditions. Crabapples are the only native apple trees in the US, so perhaps they don't suffer from the delicate affectations of their EurAsian counterparts. And they are wonderful for cider!
A few hours in the remote section of our farm known affectionately as Krabapplestan yields a bumper crop of hard, green crabapples. Two bushels of crabs, a bushel of Old Creakies (tasty, yet tart enough to make interesting cider), and a few Royal Limbertwigs and Fall Pippins purchased from a local farmer gives us enough ammunition to bring out the cider press.
Once we have a gallon of juice, it goes into a glass carboy (3- or 5-gallon in years when we have many apples) or gallon jug.