Normally, some time in the next few weeks I would be making my annual pilgrimage to the orchard to buy 10 or 15 gallons of fresh cider for making into hard cider. However, a friend of mine was there this weekend and reported to me that the price of cider is currently an astonishing $10 a gallon! Usually it's between $5-7, which seemed like a reasonable range to me.
I've always toyed with the idea of pressing my own cider, and I think this might be just the thing to push me over the edge. But I have some questions, since I've never done this before:
- If I rent a grinder and press from my LHBS, how long should it take to press, say, 5 or 6 bushels of apples? The press is a hand crank, cylinder-type wine/apple press (you know the one, red metal fixtures and wooden slat sides). Will this be a multi-day task, or an all day Saturday type adventure?
- Does anyone have experience blending American apple varieties for cider? Everything I've found is somewhat general (mix some tart varieties with some sweet) or to focus on English varieties, which seem difficult to come by. For example, if I wanted to do a blend of Winesaps, Braeburns and Cortlands or Empires, does anyone have an idea of roughly what proportions I would want to use? Or if I should include any other varieties for additional tannins, sugar content, acidity, etc?