Maggie, thanks for the suggestions
As far as freezing our juice, while using a propane heater (on low) to 'speed up' the defrosting process on our two freezers last winter, I melted the sealing edge of our oldest
We'd been considering, due to electricity consumption, eliminating one of them; but this wasn't part of the plan... Down to one freezer, but two refrigerators, I haven't room to freeze any juice this year.
One problem I've had with freezing apple / pear juice is that the thawing process is so long; first the sugar laden syrup thaws, someone inevitably drinks it, complains that it's too sweet
- while a 'water core' is still bobbing inside the jug. Once that water dissolves, up to a week later inside the refrigerator, the remaining juice is 'watered down.' I'm afraid to leave it at room temperature; unlike our gallons of fresh juice (right now), we try to make the frozen juice stuff 'last' a bit longer after thawing, I worry about it 'turning' after having gotten so warm as to completely thaw in hours - as opposed to days..? Plus, we're absolutely spoiled by fresh apple juice (never older than three weeks) for around three months! By that time, we're all ready to move on to whatever else
As far as canning it, I've done that back home with my Dad. He would bike to a nearby recycling station then bring home gallon screw-cap glass jugs in his large bike basket. Yes, us kids were embarrassed as he'd ride through our neighborhood with all those empty green wine jugs
... But guess what? I've got them now, and have reused them countless times - having bought modern â€˜sealingâ€™ lids. But we'd boil apple juice in our largest pots, skim off the foam, pour the near boiling juice into a clean jug, screw on a new cap, and store it for(ever) as long as necessary in our basement.
With the use of a high-production home-welded steel apple press of my Uncle's my dad, uncle, and grandpa once processed over 90 gallons of apple juice in a day! A wonderful memory of that process was my Grandfather having thrown the pulp onto his garden, where several seedling apple trees grew the following year; we 'save out' a half dozen that I grafted known verities onto the following spring. He gave them away to friends and neighbors but babied the last as if it were another child... Anyway, we never liked the 'cooked' juice over the fresh, and it wouldn't disappear as fast, but months after the fresh stuff was gone, it tasted better than milk!
I've never boiled, or 'canned' my juice; we just drink it hot or cold, and as fast as possible till it's gone. I have a Teacher at our grade school who saves her families Gatorade plastic gallon jugs for us. Theyâ€™re rectangular, have a nice handle, always clean from her, and if I don't get them back - no loss. For my closet neighbors, I pass out my (Dad's) green glass jugs; if they don't come back - I hunt them down! And for 'School' and ourselves, I use the clear glass jugs to store the fresh apple juice; for just over three weeks, before it begins to 'turn.' The same Teacher who provides the jugs has a husband that won't drink the juice till it's begun to turn, or age... He caught me 'glugging out' a few aged gallons while he hunted the bear in our orchard
and asked if he could have the rest (3 gallons)? He loves it! We've also done vinegar, using the air-tight water-lock caps as it ferments. It makes the best natural rich vinegar and everybody wants some, but it leaves scum crusted to the inside of my prized glass jugs that I can't get off... And I wouldnâ€™t (couldnâ€™t?) use plastic for that process(?).
I generally give our juice away fresh; my last batch was over 20 gallons. 'Still warm,' I haul it around to the neighbors ... problem is, if I leave anyone out - they're wondering why?
"Just get my jars back
" I tell them... I've helped out at my childrenâ€™s grade school for years, instead of bringing in apples to their teachers, my kids have taken half gallon plastic jugs of fresh apple juice. Problem? As they've passed through the grades, each teacher feels slighted if not given their yearly allotment of juice. Solution? Keep a 'never-ending' supply of fresh juice in the teachers lounge. They love it! I'll list the 'base apple,' accompanying apples, bitter variety; and they all love when I include pears. Our favorite
teachers and staff, including the Kindergarten Teacher get their own private jugs ... The kids pass notes telling each there's a jug for them in the second refg.
I've had events suggested, and have had 3 HOS Tours
out here ... but I really haven't the amount of apples ripe at one time to make it worthwhile... I'd purposely planted (Halloween night will be our 25th year anniversary living 'out here') apple varieties ripening at a sustained, or progressive rate. I juice the Gravenstein's first, and work toward the Granny Smiths, and process 4 or 5 runs of around 20 gallons each. It's usually an 8 hour day, and my last, with no help (like the good ol days), was a real workout. Harvesting and cleanup take about equal time to the grinding & pressing. My last run was a bit nicer, I was finally able to open the garage doors - the Yellow Jackets had dwindled. But sure enough, one found me (apparently rock music doesnâ€™t bother them!). Alone, I couldnâ€™t hunt it down like my kids are expected to do. But where do you think I found it? In the post-strained stainless steel trough of fresh juice of course! I don't sell it, wouldnâ€™t give away anything I wouldn't drink myself ... but if I ever found a dead Y-jacket floating in my glass, I would not be impressed!
My process? Pick from whatever tree's dropping the most fruit; never pick anything off the ground or that drops while I pick, or that the deer have be able to 'nose.' Fill the wheel borrow, then pack a dozen or so 5 gallon buckets into our drive-in garage / basement. Wipe down and plug in the press; set up a 5 gal. bucket of water for rinsing each apple; arange varieties near the electric grinder to place a blend of each into every grind. Pulp bucket full, set a clean cup above the screen to catch the first clear juice (that hasn't browned) for instant consumption
and incentive for all concerned; move the full pulp bucket under hand-screw pressing block; continue to press as another batch of pulp is ground into the second wooden stave (bucket)... Have clean jugs at the ready, rinse capped jugs and refrigerate immediately... Cut out any rotten spots, and half any apples too big to make it to the grinder; never mind a 'small' worm holes, but discard anything too ugly. I load two pulp pressings into a 5 gal. bucket then spread them over a fallow garden spot - to feed / intoxicate the wasps. We've seen deer munching on these fresh cakes of pulp - I'd bet cows and horses would love it too!
Clean-up's never as exciting as Start-up ... but after a bit of research, I found that Bob Correll's press shown online is mine!
He'd done such a magnificent job on this press that I clean it to 'furniture status' after each workout - no problem.
You say: "This year hubby was climbing a ladder to get the walnut dryers down from the attic in the shed, and the ladder went flying.... "
- A constant concern of mine ... and gravity's fast! I'm glad the climbing work comes first, while Iâ€™m still at full strength, it seems when I get hurt itâ€™s when I'm tired; a good thing the water hose isn't dangerous! I use my aluminum three-legged orchard ladder
to pick from; but if there's 'dew' on the gorse ... while maneuvering my loaded 'picking bag' within a crowded tree, it's tricky.
Hey - looks like I've written a chapter ... thanks for getting me going though
nearly as motivational as having a daughter describe a Teacher, with her hands warming around a mug of microwaved fresh apple juice, "with a touch of cinnamon," tell her to, "Thank your Dad so much"
~ She's welcome - we can't drink it all!