Tag Archives: cider

An introduction to cider making!

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As fall quickly approaches, heralded in by an early September snow fall, you may notice that the apple trees around the city are heavy with fruit. If you are familiar with OFRE’s mission and take part in it, you know there is more fruit available than you could possibly use. Even walking my dog around my neighbourhood in North Glenora I have seen at least a dozen trees still full.

While big juicy apples are perfect for eating or baking, many of the apples trees around Edmonton are crab apple trees. Crab apples are too sour to eat and too small to make pies with, but they are perfect for one thing, and that’s cider! Crisp tart cider, tossed it in the crock pot with some spices and you have one of my favourite winter drinks, mulled cider.

If you ever thought making cider was hard, you’re wrong; it’s simple, fun and inexpensive.

apples for cider

cider press
Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a mix of different varieties of apples
  • an apple crusher
  • a press

The key to a good cider is the choice of apples. While any apple can make a good cider, a good mix of a variety is key. I prefer ciders heavy on the crap apples because I like a tart cider. I’ve made a cider with only sweeter apples and I found it flat and too sweet for my palate. Try making your own blends until you find what tastes best to you.

Next you’ll need a lot of apples, for every 15-20 kg of apples you can expect 10L of cider. If you consider that an average tree can have well over 100 kg, that’s not a lot of work.

To transform your apples into a delicious cider you’ll need an apple crusher and a press. You can either rent this equipment or make it yourself. There are several blogs that provide instructions on creating different DIY models. I prefer renting the equipment as I find you get more juice (and it’s a whole lot easier). While I’m sure there may be other places you can pick up the equipment, I usually head over to Estate Brewing where owner Kevin Hogg has a few sets of crushers and barrel presses and will be happy to show you the ins and outs.

The actual crushing and pressing is pretty easy. The Cider Workshop is an excellent resource and can give you advice on how to press cider. Likewise there are numerous other blogs which give good advice.

Once you’re done pressing and before you call it a day, you will need to get rid of the pressed apples (called pumice) and store your cider. The pumice can be left out in clear garbage bags and it will be composted at the Edmonton Waste Management Facility. As for the cider, it will last a week in the fridge before it starts to ferment. If you want it keep it longer, you can simply freeze it or preserve it through canning. Read about: Preserving Fruit Juices and Apple Cider from Oregon state University

Cider pressing is easy and it gives you a healthy, locally sourced drink that you can enjoy throughout the winter.

Press Release – The Golden Shovel!

OFRE’s 5th year celebration – From modest beginnings to a strong future:  Micro-Orchard takes root in McCauley

Your cordially invited to the official planting of the Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton micro-orchard, September 13th, 2014, at the McCauley School grounds, 95th Street & 107A Avenue.

As part of the days festivities, Edmonton City Councillor, Scott McKeen, Megan Rogers from Forestry operations, Jane Molstad from community revitalization, and Mike Johnson, OFRE President will make announcements and take part in the golden shovel ceremony. The event will start at 9am with the planting of the first tree at 10am.

Other attending organizations include: Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (EBC), and Edmonton Permaculture Guild. There will be live music, it’s open to the public and people of all ages are welcome to attend. OFRE volunteers will be pressing cider with the pedal powered apple crusher, which is always fun to see in action!

This orchard is unique to Edmonton, the region, and Canada as it’s one of the first ever urban orchards on public land. It will be a place for Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton to teach, learn and grow. For Edmontonians, it will be a place, to develop a passion for local food, to harness long lost food preservation skills, and to contribute to a stronger, more food secure city.

The micro-Orchard will include plantings to showcase the types and varieties of fruit trees, shrubs, and bushes grown in the Edmonton Capital region. Fruit varieties to be planted include: apples, pears, cherries, saskatoons, raspberries, and more! 

No experience necessary, just bring your enthusiasm and a shovel. The event is open to the public and is FREE to attend!

Pick of the week – June 16th

We are starting a new feature on our blog called Pick of the Week that will feature stories of our pickers, bloggers, and other local food enthusiasts telling us stories about local fruit. First up is Mike’s story about picking pears!

Since I caught the bug of picking fruit a few year back, I look at the city of Edmonton differently. I have my fruit goggles on, and everywhere I look I see fruit trees and the possibilities!  This city is filled with so many fruit trees and hundreds of varieties.

While walking my dog one evening three years ago, my fruit senses came alive as I was walking down a back alley only four blocks from my house.  I saw two amazing pear trees, and there were a few branches that drooped over the fence into the back alley.  I picked a couple of them to have a taste.  At that time I didn’t think Edmonton could grow great pears.  But I was glad to be wrong this once. They were not woody, but were sweet, dripping with juice, and one of the best pears I have ever tasted.  I kept going back for the last 2 years, and each year I saw the pears fall on the ground, and were wasted.  Last year I decided that enough was enough and I would contact the owner to see if they wanted help harvesting their fruit.  They were friendly and were excited about the possibilities of someone picking the pears and taking them away.  I organized an OFRE pick and immediately had two other people sign up.

pears

We picked on a weeknight and since pears ripen in early fall, the darkness fell upon us quickly.  We were out there in the dusk climbing the tree trying to get all the fruit off the trees.  We ended up picking three rubbermaid bins full, and felt like kids again, climbing a tree!  The home owner even asked if we wanted a spot light set up so we could see all the pears that we missed.  The pickers that joined me were going to be making pear cider with their share, as they had just taken a cider making course with Shovel & Fork.   I was just going to eat all mine, and take a few over to my neighbour as he makes an amazing Pear and Parmesan pizza.  I asked the home owner if she wanted some of her amazing fruit.  Her response, which still sticks with me today, was “You know what, that’s okay,  you take them.  If I want pears I will go to the farmers market and pick some up”.

I personally think that her pears were tastier then any pears at the farmers market, they were just a little bit smaller.  It’s funny how our perceptions of food change when we are surrounded by it.  Maybe in this case the fruit is better on the other side of the fence… no matter which side of the fence you sit on.

 By Mike Johnson

Voting begins! OFRE’s community cider shack project!

Have you ever tasted OFRE cider? If so, I bet you agree it’s the best in town! It’s unique, it’s pedal-powered, every batch has different variety of apples in it, and it’s made by volunteers who build sweat equity and go home with some cider for their efforts. Sounds like a win win, right?!

carbon farmer grant poster

What is in store for OFRE in 2013? OFRE has applied for a micro-grant funded by The Carbon Farmer to get some funding to help us build a community cider shack! We want to build on the success of the small cider events we have held in the past to having a permanent location for processing cider. This would be a place for OFRE members to come together to process their apples and walk home with cider for their efforts.  Pressing cider is a family friendly event. Everyone can get involved from the old to the young. Sweat equity is encouraged followed by generous consumption of delicious cider from apples grown right here in your city!

OFRE’s vision is to get the fruit in the hands, mouths, and minds of Edmonton’s citizens. Help us get more fruit picked, pressed, and enjoyed and reduce the waste that ends up in the landfill!

What can you do to help? Vote for us on the Facebook contest page. You can vote once a day for the whole month. It’s a highest number of votes wins kind of contest, so vote often if you can!

Thank you for your support!

OFRE launches the pedal powered apple crusher @ Devonian Garden’s Fruit Grower’s Festival, Sept 16th, 2012

pedal-powered apple crusher

It’s that wonderful time of year again! Apple season! Which means it’s OFRE’s cider season! Last year OFRE won a micro-grant from Next Gen’s

edmonton nextgen

MEAET event and used that grant money to partner with Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (EBC) and turn our apple crusher into a pedal powered apple crusher!

Meaet

edmonton bicycle commuters

We thought no better time to officially launch the pedal powered crusher than at our favourite cider event of the season: The Fruit Grower’s Festival! This pedal powered crusher was built with recycled, upcycled, and salvaged parts from bikes, wood shops, shopping carts, etc. Our volunteers worked hard over the winter designing and building this amazing custom apple crusher. Come to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden to learn about it and meet some of the people who helped build it and make it happen.

University of Alberta Botanic Garden

Here is a little video of a test run we had a couple weeks ago to make sure everything was working smoothly.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOkvbe-s3Ro]

The event runs from 11am-4pm. There is plenty of activities revolving around fruit to learn about what grows in a prairie climate. You might be surprised by what you find out! There will also be seminars on different topics throughout the day. Amy Beaith (OFRE Director & official canner of OFRE products) will be giving a talk on canning and other ways to preserve fruit.