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

It is COLD

It is very cold. Though, now that I think about it, it did this last year, or was it two years ago. Beginning of October first two weeks were quite cold, almost freezing. Then, it warmed up, and we had some good weather until about Thanksgiving.

However, I am not complaining, because it will keep the apples better longer. Do you know how long apples will last at 32ºF? They will last almost the whole year. That is the temperature that outlets keep the apples at, before shipping to stores every couple weeks throughout the year. At 32ºF the apple is just above its freezing point. Water freezes at 32ºF, but the sugar content in apples keeps it from freezing at 32ºF. Apples ripen twice as fast at 40ºF as they do at 32ºF. They ripen twice as fast at 50ºF as they do at 40ºF, so you see, I'm glad it got down to 33ºF here last night.

The apple grinder is taking longer then I would have liked it too (I guess that is what happens when you have a million projects you are doing, focusing on one leaves the others hanging). I don't think the disposal I have is going to work. First off, I don't think it is stainless steel, and I see rust and nasty stuff all over the interior. Second, it has a hole in the bottom chamber. So, I'm not sure yet where to get the next one. I think I can make a couple bucks selling all the copper that was in the motor, and I might find a use for this garbage disposal. Hey! Maybe I could hook it up to chop up food scraps into small pieces for my compost pile? To get it going real hot? there is a good idea! Anyway, I think I can make some money from the copper on the motor, and find uses for the disposal. However, I need another disposal for the apple grinder.

I would like to get some cloth to day for the cheeses for the cider grinder. Also if I could get my dad to hook up my motor that would be nice too. I'll probably call around the Restore locations and see which one has a garbage disposal. I might post on freecycle again, I don't know though. I've been keeping up with craig's list and they don't really have them.

My garden could use some help. Maybe planting some cover crops (likely story that one) and finish sifting my compost so that I can turn my compost pile.

Anyway, that is what things are at right now.

English Vintner