I have been incredibly busy with work lately. I don't usually have to work very much, not more than ten hours a week, but twice a year for about two months each time, I am really busy. That time is going on right now. I hope to be able to post more starting in December when I am back to my normal schedule. I haven't been finding much time to squeeze in projects but there are definitely things I need to catch up on. I have more jam and jelly making to do, a couple gardens that need to be tilled under and restarted for the fall season, and some crafts to complete before the holidays. It's a good thing work will slow down again in about a month.
I did manage to take the boys apple picking today. I have been wanting to go since apple season started and decided that if I didn't do it today, the season would be over before I got another chance to go. We went to Oak Glen ; specifically to the Willowbrook Apple Farm. I was a little disappointed that they aren't an organic farm, but we had a good time anyway. The farmer did mention another farm not too far away that doesn't use pesticides so we will probably try that farm next year.
The boys and I each picked a bag of apples. We are very efficient. I think we had our bags full within five minutes (granted, they weren't very big bags...).
The boys shared Dave's jacket that happened to be in the truck as I am a bad mother and didn't even think to bring jackets or even long sleeve shirts for them. At one point while waiting to press apples into cider, they zipped both of them into the jacket and insisted they were one person just with two heads and four legs.
I think the highlight of the day was pressing the apples into cider. We waited for a very long time, having gotten in line just behind a group of people from a Russian school in Orange County. They had lots of kids, were getting lots of cider, and the kids didn't want any help from any adults. In case you have never tried one of the machines they use to crush the apples and then press them, it takes a fair amount of strength. It took four 8-10 year old girls about twenty minutes to make one gallon of cider; and that was with the guy who worked there finally taking over near the end of the crushing part. Multiply that by the twenty kids the group had with them and we really waited a long time for that cider. I told the boys they had better really enjoy it!
Each gallon of cider takes about twenty pounds of apples. They crusher is turned while apples are loaded into the top. The crushed apple falls into a barrel-like thing underneath that is lined with some kind of filtering fabric to keep the biggest bits in. We all took a turn cranking the crusher.
Once all the apples were crushed, they moved the container to the end of the platform, laid the fabric over the top of the apple pulp, put a round board on top on the fabric, then had the boys turn a huge screw to press the board down onto the pulp, thereby squeezing out the juice. It was collected in a large bowl, then poured through a funnel with a screen on it to make sure no large chunks or bugs got through. It was collected in a gallon jug, capped, then given to us to take home. Yum!
I hope to make some apple cider jelly... I have no idea when I will get the time to do it though. I just need to keep the kids from drinking it all before I get around to making the jelly. I also plan on turning some of the apples into apple butter and possibly caramel apple jam. Here's hoping.