Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Seed Saving/Apple Pressing

Zinnias, my first memory of them is growing them along the border of the garden we had (yup, my mom had a garden during the mid 90's up until 2001, when her family was too much to have a garden also, since I was not old enough to do much). We grew them I remember two years, but probably almost every year. They are beautiful flowers. Two years ago was when I got growing fever. I was into growing everything edible, no flowers or anything like that that you can't eat. Well, after doing quite a bit of research I am realizing that nature does best in harmony. So, it is best to have a good amount of herbs, flowers and fruits and vegetables growing together. So that nature takes it's course in the bees coming will be attracted to the flowers and herbs and such and provide shelter and care for them during the winter with hedges.

So, this year I planted zinnias. I also planted a few day lilies and some other flowers. I planted only about 20 seeds. From them I probably got several hundred blooms. At any given time I had dozens of blooms, orange, red, and pink. They bloomed constantly (and still are) since they came up. Well, I got the idea to save the seed. I mean, how cool is that? I think more people should be doing that, saving seed from year to year of certain vegetables, flowers and herbs. I'm hoping to get basil seeds from some of my plants set aside for the purpose. So, today I picked zinnia heads, several dozen, and hope to pick many more. Maybe I could sell some? Mail a few through the mail? I am germinating some right now, to make sure the seed is viable.

Cider. Well, I was getting a little discouraged about it. My disposal isn't working to well for me. I did remember seeing a video of someone crushing apples with a 2x4. In fact, Herrick mentions it in his Whizbang cider book also. It is definitely the cheapest, but fairly manual labor if you are doing gallons and gallons. So, today I decided to give it a try. I had the wine press from Kevin and Powell, and I didn't want to go through the whole week without using it. So, I swept out the front of the garage real well. Set up the press, scrubbed a 5gal. bucket, got a 2x4. I then boil half a gallon or so of water. Brought it down and sanitized everything. The bucket, press basket, everything, I wanted to keep this clean. It feels good to keep things nice and sanitized with boiling water like that.

Once I had everything ready I got down my apple cutting board (have I told you about that? I should have an article on it, and maybe you will buy one eh?) cut up the apples into halves and quarters depending on how big the apples were. Some of the apples are smaller than golf balls! Some are bigger than my fist. I did about 4 inches of apples, then got the 2x4 and started crushing them. It is surprisingly easy. And it does a good job within minutes. You can't do too many at a time in the bucket, or it won't crush them very well. Also, it leaves the apple chunks rather large, so to minimize waste, we are cooking up the apple pomace and making apple sauce with it. It won't have as much flavor, but still yield a good amount. Once we run in through the apple sauce maker the pulp from that will go into the compost. So, out of those apples I cut up, less than half a bushel, I got 1 3/4 gallons of apple cider, and a full pot of apple pieces for apple sauce, and than compost.

The cider pressed this way tastes better than cider made from a juicer. A juicer leaves it pulpier. It doesn't press it, it sorta grinds it into juice. This cider is like the stuff you buy, clear and smooth tasting. So, if you have access to a press, let me encourage you to get a 2x4 and make a few gallons! You will be impressed.

English Vintner


  1. Zinnias are my all time favorite flowers!!! Could you PLEASE send me some seeds? They are so cheerful.
    I can not picture a 2x4 being able to crush apples, how does that work were they soft? I would think they would just get bruised.:/ It sure sounds like a satisfying job.

  2. Yeah. If you bug me about it to get it in the mail this Fall that would make it happen. I'm letting them dry right now, but bug me about it sometime in November or December. When school slows down.

    It works well. Think about it like driving over an apple with a car. It pretty much decimates it. You have to get the right amount of apples in the bucket at a time, and it works really well.

    I am also realizing that you get more cider from smaller pressings. I did all of a bushel at one time. And that didn't get as much cider this time. It works better, though is a little slower because you are doing more batches, to do about 6 inches off crushed apples. After that is done pressing take that out and start over, or add a plate of wood to keep the pressure inbetween the new mash.