Vegan Cider–Hold the Worms

Cider Time!

As air has the telltale crispness that denotes a change of season, it is time to pick apples. I am shocked by the number of people who have apple trees and do nothing with the apples! We have 4 of our own trees that produce apples but have a neighbor that planted 200 trees– just for their family and friends. I found them so inspirational that I planted 20 more trees last year. While I wait for those to come of age, I am still searching out unwanted apples from around the country. It is not hard to find people who will be happy to have you pick up their apples as a service to THEM. Just put the word out and they will come.

Apples, Apples 

The apple is about as close as you can come to the perfect fruit, how can they be left to rot and waste–it is not for lack of potential. So many options and so little time, what is new, on the homestead there is never enough time for it all. This year I began my cider production with a trip to our neighbors to pick apples. I took several buckets, bags, and boxes and picked up twelve 5- gallon buckets full of apples.

I can fit about 1 1/2 gallons of quartered apples into the cider press, which is close to the equivalent of two 5- gallon buckets of whole apples.

Wash the Apples

First, I wash the apples.

apples in sink of water

Washing Apples

Quarter the Apples

The next step takes the most time. I have never had the benefit of beautiful bruise free and worm free apples, so I quarter them and cut out any worms. I know, extra protein is a good thing, but I just can’t quite bring myself to ignore them as they look up at me with their little round faces. If you have the luxury of less “organic” apples, then just cutting them in half would be small enough to grind.

bucket of apples

Quartered Apples Ready to Grind

Grind the Apples

A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to find a homemade apple press and apple grinding set up for $50 on Craigslist. It is not very pretty but does the trick. Their clever apple grinder is a small stainless sink with homemade legs and an attached garbage disposal.

sink with disposal for grinding apples

Garbage Disposal Apple Grinder

I have a few thoughts on the good and bad of my grinder set up: 

  1. If I were starting from scratch I would like to find a slightly larger sink, ideally the drain hole would be offset so there is a little more room to dump the apples in.

  2. In my case I carry this outside when I use it, so it is good that it is not very heavy or large to move.

  3. Legs are tall and that really helps make it more ergonomic to stand at it.

  4. The disposal is 1/2 h.p. I have read that others use a larger size and I think that might work a little better.

  5. I need to install a switch on the side so I don’t have to unplug it to turn it off.

The grinding process is pretty quick and should only be done by an adult. I dump about 1/3 of the 5-gallon bucket of apples into the sink. I have to push about 4-5 apple pieces into the drain area with a plunger. It works best if you keep a piece of apple between the plunger and the blades. I just keep feeding it in, without allowing the disposal to completely clear that way I only occasionally make contact with the plunger and the blades. 

apples in disposal

Grinding Apples

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