Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Apple Cider? Don't Try This At Home

Monday morning rolled around with all the high drama and expectations that a week apart could provide. The girls were back, arriving in a whirlwind of forgotten items, stuffed animals, diaper bags and regal requests.

I, however, had an activity already planned that was sure to eat up some of our pre nap time and provide entertainment and sustenance. At least, that was the plan.

Note to self: Juicers are not all they are cracked up to be. Even with the best efforts of one grandmother and two excited children, you could die of thirst before you make enough apple juice for everyone.

But not to give away the story.

Near the house there is an old apple tree. I have no idea what type of apple it might be. Suffice it to say the tree is old and untended with dead branches and undergrowth. It is, however, located on the side of the road where apples fall and land in the ditch, roll onto the pavement, and generally accumulate in a way that attracts an assortment of wildlife. We frequently gather a handful when we pass and eat them while walking. Even the baby, E3, likes to gnaw on one with her few teeth.

I had been lamenting the lack of a cider mill to put all those wonderful apples to use. For a cider mill, I would have been able to gather the juicy fruits, toss them in and emerge with a beverage to enjoy. As it was, I happened to remember a juicer I had not previously put to use. Over the weekend I informed E1, who rode with me to church on Sunday, that we'd make apple juice. It was a much anticipated event, at least on my behalf.

When E3 went to her room for a pre-lunch reset (sometimes she naps and she has a while to collect herself for the afternoon), we managed to get lunch in the oven and grabbed a bucket to collect apples. The apples are organic (around here that means deer apples because they're wormy, but it's all in the marketing), so we filled the bucket with water to take care of unwelcome guests while we ate.

Finally, with lunch out of the way we pulled out the juicer and discovered its most serious flaw. While I didn't think it would accept whole apples, I was dismayed that it would only take really tiny slices. Not to be dissuaded we soon developed a system for juicing.

I sliced the apples and E2, sometimes aided by an overanxious E1, put the slices in the top of the juicer.

E2 took her job seriously and was very good at it. Although occasionally, to the delight of both girls, the whirling blades would send a slice of apple shooting back out the top and ricocheting around the cabinet.

E1 had the job of pushing the slices down once the feeding tube was loaded. While she was willing to infringe on her sister's role, she didn't let her task fall into anyone else's hands.

The problem was not in the process, which they found delightful. It was the product, which despite the super juicy apples, was lacking in quantity. In fact, we had accumulated a large bowl of stems and scraps long before reaching two cups of juice. I decided we had enough to sample and since I was going to need to get rid of the compost, called the experiment to an end.

They didn't mind.

Both enjoyed sampling the fruits of their labors, although had they been thirsty we'd have been lacking. And we still have a bucket of apples -- not for future juicing, but we may enjoy an afternoon snack another day.

Oh, and E3, well, she finally discovered a use for all those corks I've been saving.

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