Apples, a Cider Press, and a Party

The day was a beautiful Sunday, October 20, 2013. Dekie had given me tickets to a Kristofferson concert in Atlanta and since we were going to the big city anyway we decided to stop by and visit our friends, John and Jane Kenna who were having their annual cider pressing party. John has an amusing tale of purchasing a hammer mill in Highlands, N.C. a number of years ago. As he was loading the machine he found that he had also unknowingly bought a cider press. That started his obsession with cider pressing. I have some interesting friends.

John takes his truck to Mercier’s in Blue RidgeGeorgia where they sell him a load of cider apples (seconds, not the premiums). The truck will hold 18 to 20 bushels and there will be several varieties including Granny Smith, Mcintosh, Golden Delicious, Arkansas Black, and Winesaps.

apples for cider

Apples for the cider pressing party from Mercier’s in Blue Ridge, Ga.

Here’s a picture of John Kenna with the hammer mill that started it all. Lots of people show up for the party and there is plenty of help to throw the apples into the machine that chops them up and spits the “pumice” into a large bucket.

John Kenna with his hammer mill that chops up the apples.

John Kenna with his hammer mill that chops up the apples.

One would expect a cider press to be a complicated machine, but one would be wrong. This is what it looks like:

cider press in Georgia

A cider press is a rather simple machine

The ground up, chopped up apples are carefully emptied into the press.

putting the chopped up apples into the cider press

putting the chopped up apples into the cider press

When the press is full, a series of wooden blocks are placed on top of the pumice in a manner that will force the mess down under force.

The screw pressing mechanism being installed on the cider press

The screw pressing mechanism being installed on the cider press

It’s a simple principle of screwing a plate down on top of the pumice to mash out the juice but as the pressing device reaches bottom it becomes rather difficult. John told me that these are commercial presses that can press a hundred to a hundred and fifty gallons per day

It's a combination of a lever and a ramp. Simple tools. The ramp is wrapped around a rod. We call it a "screw."

It’s a combination of a lever and a ramp. Simple tools. The ramp is wrapped around a rod. We call it a “screw.”

The cider flows out through a spout and into a strainer, ending up in a five gallon bucket. Guests at the cider pressing are encouraged to bring a jug or two so they can take some cider home.

As the handle turns the cider pours out. Ready to drink

As the handle turns the cider pours out. Ready to drink

John pours cups of cider and hands them out to all takers. He told me that the cider really tastes good with a shot of good bourbon. I tried a sip but couldn’t taste it on account of what chemotherapy has done to my taste buds. I did, however, remember past parties when I enjoyed it.

John Kenna hands out cups of cider.

John Kenna hands out cups of cider.

Jane Kenna told me that they started the parties about ten years ago. She said, “We enjoy getting family and friends together to work on making cider and learning about apples.” While looking around I found a note about cider that I found interesting.

information about apple cider

A little info I found in my wanderings.

I attended another cider pressing party in 2010 and wrote a funny story. Click here to read about the little boy on his dad’s shoulders

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man. Remember, Requiem for a Redneck by John P. Schulz is now available in the Kindle Store as an ebook.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Bob Hicks
    Oct 28, 2013 @ 10:47:02

    John:

    This is delightful and so is the little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders. Thanks for taking time to record these observations. Bob

    Reply

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