This was the second year I got to participate in the annual apple cider event at work, in Julian Alden Weir Farm National Historic Site. Last week on National Public Lands Day, we held a smaller cider-making function due to the surprising surplus crop of apples this year. You’d never think we had a drought with the amount of apples collected. All the trees were heavily laden, some with impressively large fruit.
This is what autumn is all about – gathering together as a community to celebrate and take part in the harvest :). In the photo above, one of our rangers takes a turn cranking the grinder. Speed and momentum are far more important than muscle power- the key is to use the mechanical action to your advantage.
The apple varieties at the national park are as follows: McIntosh, Northern Spy, Baldwin, Newtown Pippin, and Rhode Island Greening. The latter 4 are old-stock heirloom species that are somewhat hard to find nowadays, unless you can find a farm or orchard where they are still grown. Newtown ( sometimes known as “Albemarle”) Pippin, was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favourite apples – he planted as many as 50 trees in the South Orchard of Monticello between 1769 and 1814.
By the end of the event, we had made upwards of 19 gallons of freshly-pressed, unpasteurised and unfiltered cider. And we still had tons of apples left…3 barrels (44 gallon each) full, plus more on other apples trees. Along with some cider, I took home a bunch of fruits for dehydrating and cooking.
Wherever you live, I encourage you to take part in any hands-on harvest festival in your area…it’s great fun and an experience you don’t want to miss.
Happy Autumn! 🙂