Last night I stayed up to 2:30 making crabapple cider. We haven’t been able to find someone willing to custom press apples, so until we can buy or build a grinder and press, we make do with a 1960’s era Acme Juicer. It does a great job of extracting juice, leaving a very dry pomace, but the process is time consuming as it is only good for a little less than a quart at a time. Making a six gallon batch requires hours and hours washing and selecting apples, pre-chopping in the food processor, feeding the juicer, and cleaning out the pomace.
It is a labor of love. We have a few crabapple trees, but our favorite tree has abundant, large red-fleshed crabapples. I believe this is the Nipissing apple variety.
The apple cider is too astringent to drink more than a sip at a time, but it makes an fantastic (and slightly pink) apple cider vinegar. We’ll make about five gallons of vinegar. Like wine, vinegar benefits from some ageing, so we’ll need to wait about eight months for the entire fermentation, acetification, and maturation processes to complete.
We also set aside and froze a gallon to blend with some cider from our local cider-maker. We’ve been making hard cider for the past few years, but the apple blends that make for tasty fresh cider seem to end up as bland hard cider. We’ll see if the crabapples add the right sharpness to the finished product.