For someone who loves fall the way I do, it was a little surprising that I'd never been to one before. I've seen apples being pressed at demonstrations, but that was about it.
First, of course, you pick the apples. My director has eight trees of three or four different varieties, plus a couple of Asian pear trees whose fruit he also puts into the cider.
Then you wash the fruit in a bleach solution.
Next comes the actual pressing. With the press we were using, we had to cut up some of the larger apples so that the press wouldn't choke on them. You throw the apples into the electric grinder--stems, seeds, leaves and all. It all gets chewed up and dropped into a bucket lined with a burlap bag. When the bag is mostly full of pulp, you put a lid on top and crank it down, to squeeze as much juice out of the pulp as you can.
The fellow in the overalls is cranking down the lid. There's a mound of dejuiced pulp in a wheelbarrow in the foreground, waiting to be toted off to the compost pile.
The juice gets strained through cheesecloth into jugs.
We were asked to bring snacks to share, so I made some curried pumpkin-apple soup. I thought it would be good on a chilly day, and apparently everyone else agreed.
And after a few hours, you've got about 90 gallons of cider. (I think my director said this was his third press of the season? Jeez, those are some productive trees.)
We brought home five gallons as our share, and my husband is turning them into hard cider. The carboy is gurgling happily away as we speak.