Saying Saturday afternoon was rainy is like saying George Clooney is cute – an utterly obvious understatement!!! But we didn’t let the rain get us down. Jeff and I spent the day running errands and while we were in the car hustling from one stop to the next, our friend Ben called to ask if we wanted to come over and learn to make apple cider. Hello? Of course we do!
In April, I wrote a little bit about Ben in a post entitled Serving Together in Love. In that post, I wrote:
“You probably know someone who would do anything for anybody just because they needed help, right? Well I do. His name is Ben. He’s “the guy” that everyone knows. You know what I mean….he’s the guy in the phrase, “I know a guy with a truck.” Or, “I know a guy who delivers tanbark.” Or, “I know a guy who will come to your house and plant a tree in the dark.””
Well, he’s also THE GUY with the cider press!!! The press was built by Ben’s grandfather and has been modified by several family members as it has been handed down. On Saturday Jeff and I were fortunate to see the press in action, spend time learning about the cider-making process, and hang out with Ben and Christa – and their sweet puppy, Paxton.
Is he adorable, or what? He’s sooooooo cute and such a pup! He’s got sharp little teeth, he’s unquenchably curious, and he tugs at your heart-strings with just a look! But I digress (as I usually do when there’s a puppy involved)!!!!
Anyway, when we arrived at Ben and Christa’s house, it was raining so hard I thought it might be monsoon season….but alas, I was wrong. We sprinted from our car into the garage to find the welcoming smell of warm apple cider and to see Ben and Christa in action. There was a large plastic tarp on the garage floor and in the center of it was THE PRESS. Off to one side were hundreds of apples awaiting their fate. And in the turkey fryer/cabbage cooker/cider boiler was a batch of cider bubbling away (thus the yummy aroma)!
Ben showed us a cycle of the process and then – like a surgical instructor taking seriously his charge to see one, do one, teach one – he put us to work! With his help, we fed apples into the spinning blades and watched as they were extracted into the basket. Then Ben put the lid on the basket and Jeff took a spin (ha ha – pun intended) at pressing. After pouring the pressed cider through the strainer and into the boiler, we repeated the process with me pressing, until we had fed all the apples through the press and all the cider poured through the strainer and into the boiler. Like any good process, then it was time to wait. You know the part where you kick back, goof off and take a little rest!
Fortunately, before we arrived, Ben and Christa had been working tirelessly so there was some cider that had already been cooled that was ready to bottle. And drink. We sipped our cider and watched Ben bottle the cooled cider.
We did not leave empty-handed. We got some cider to take home to drink and some cider to make into Apple Cider Caramel (See recipe below) for ourselves and for Ben and Christa. We also left with two gigantic sweet potatoes, a watermelon, and various other things from Ben and Christa’s garden.
So although the day was cold and rainy and I was freezing by the time we got into the car, our bellies were warmed by the cider and our hearts were warmed by time spent learning something new from and spending time catching up with good friends!!!