Clyde and I are always excited to spend time with friends and family and we will toast to just about anything, because life should be celebrated the big moments and the small everyday moments. So when our friends invited us to a afternoon of cider pressing and dining on the deck followed by an evening around the fire pit we were eager to roll the red carpet for our favorite season.
Growing up in Maine, I can not imagine fall with out apples and cider. My grandparents owned and operated the most perfect apple orchard and the back of our property was literally across the dirt road from one of their apple fields. It was just a five minute walk to their barn that smelled of hay and apples. And as if growing up in Maine wasn't perfect enough, growing up in Maine on an apple orchard with a big red barn well, there may as well have been unicorns running around that field, it was magical.
We arrived at our friends home mid afternoon and the press was already in full swing. They had pick over 100+ pounds of apples the day before and had everything set up beautifully.
These apples brought back so many wonderful childhood memories of the fields that we played in for hours, the big red barn with the dusty deer head that both fascinated me and freaked me out at the same time, and the most wonderful grandparents a kid could ask for. I remember the conveyer belt that carried the apples through the washing machine and my grandmother standing at the opposite end picking through the apples removing the leaves and any debris that made it in from the picking baskets.
The scene was just slightly different than that big red barn but the process was exactly the same, the smell was the same and the only thing missing, my wonderful grandparents and the backfire of the 1936 John Deer tractor that would have me running for the hills every time he started it up.
The recipe is simple, fresh apples, washed, crushed and pressed, equals cider.
We all took turns helping out, I think my favorite part was sliding the crushed apple bin over to the right to be pressed. It reminded me of the wheel barrow full of spent, crushed apples my Grandfather would empty from his automatic press and wheel just outside the barn.
It went pretty quick with all hands on deck and before too long we were done. I loved that they used washed out milk jugs, just like my Grandfather did and the cider was delicious.
After the last of the cider was jugged, and the press was cleaned up, we enjoyed a late lunch on the deck.
We ended the day relaxing around the fire pit with a little nip in our cider, a bite of homemade apple pie and the sound of coyotes off in the distance.
It was a lovely day of feeling blessed and grateful for great friends and family and I can not imagine a better way to welcome in fall.