Monday, September 19, 2016

Pressing the Harvest

The crisp falls days have brought with them the sweetly pungent smell of ripening apples.  Maid Elizabeth has an old-fashioned apple tree in her front yard that yields bountiful golden red apples with a flavor reminiscent of a Granny Smith with a sweet aftertaste.  They are crisp, making them perfect for pies, cakes, cookies and canning and they lend themselves especially well to one of our favorite fall treats - apple cider! 

Saturday, Maid Elizabeth and I spent the afternoon peeling and slicing apples (with help from Sir Knight) and rolling dough for our favorite fried apple pies.  We have been making these pies for years, after stumbling across the PERFECT fried apple pie dough recipe, and they seemed like the perfect treat to accompany our cider pressing adventure the following afternoon.  Because we used fresh apples (often, we'll use apples I've canned), the pies stayed crisp and perfect overnight, and even into the next day.

Sir Knight peeling apples

Apples mixed with sugar, flour and cinnamon

Butter melting in boiling water

The dough coming together

Maid Elizabeth rolling out circles of dough


And crimping

Frying pies - 6 at a time

Glazed and waiting to be devoured!
After church on Sunday, the family gathered at Maid Elizabeth's, cider press in tow, to begin pressing the fall harvest.  Miss Serenity picked through apples, discarding the damaged ones, while the children picked apples.  Maid Elizabeth washed jugs and Master Hand Grenade and Sir Knight ran the cider press.  We spent most of the afternoon pressing and finished up with roughly 25 gallons of fresh cider.  When we were done it didn't look like we had touched the apples in Maid Elizabeth's yard.  The rest of the good apples we will gather for canning while the damaged apples will go on the bear bait.  Nothing goes to waste!

Apples for the taking

Miss Serenity and Master Calvin, with the neighbor children picking apples on their side of the fence.

Into the apple eater

The cider press in full production!

Filled with crushed apples


And the cider flows!

Catching the last few drops

Pouring the cider through cheesecloth

Individual bottles

Gallons (with room left for expansion during freezing)

25+ gallons!
If you have a notion to make fried apple pies, here is our recipe:

Fried Apple Pies

For the dough:
1 C butter (cut into pieces)
1 1/4 C boiling water
1 tsp. salt
3 T sugar
4 1/2 to 5 C flour

Cut up the butter and put it into a medium bowl.  Stir in boiling water and stir until the butter has melted.  Add the salt, sugar and flour.  Stir until the dough forms a soft ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while making your filling.

Cut into 16 equal pieces and roll out on a floured board.

For the filling:
3 C fruit, chopped (I used fresh apples)
1/4 C sugar, to taste
1/4 C flour
2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Mix thoroughly.  Put  1/4 C of filling into each dough round (or more, for a fuller pie).  Fold the dough over the top of the filling and crimp the edges with a fork.  Fry in hot oil (not so hot that it smokes) until golden brown.  Cool on rack.  When cool drizzle with a vanilla glaze.

Vanilla Glaze
1 1/2 C confectioners sugar
1 T butter, melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 T milk

Mix all ingredients.  Add more milk, if needed, to achieve the desired consistency.  Drizzle over cooled pies.


What a beautiful day of pressing apple cider and giving praise to the Lord of the Harvest!


  1. Those look very tasty. I have several old pear trees that I need to do something with, I just do not know what yet.

  2. How do you preserve the cider? Just freezing, or also canning or other methods?

  3. So glad that you are back posting. The fruit pies look yummy. And what a fun and productive day with your family! SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  4. Your recipe posts are among my favorites! These pies look so yummy!

  5. Rumor control!! Any truth that you are selling your shouse/land? This was mentioned on the Rural Revolution blog...

  6. Oh, I can smell that glorious cider! We are starting our pressing season this afternoon and I can hardly wait!
    You aren't using those apples off the ground, are you? I know all the old-timers did...but you might want to look up "patulin" and make up your own mind as to the risks. Patulin is a toxic fungal metabolite (mycotoxin) produced by certain moulds of the genera Penicillium, Aspergillus and Byssochlamys growing on various food commodities, especially fruit. Patulin exhibits a number of toxic effects in animals and its presence in food is undesirable. It is most often found on apples laying on the ground (where they are contaminated by these moulds living on the ground) or those damaged by birds/animals on the tree. We lay down clean tarps when the apples start to fall so they don't touch the dirt/grass. As I am deathly allergic to penicillin and my sister is on the kidney transplant list, we don't take a chance using apples off the ground. Especically as there may be an indication of problems with cumulative exposure...and we make a lot of cider each and every year and consume each and every drop!
    When I make applesauce, I soften the un-peeled/un-cored(but sliced in half or quarters) apples in cider before running them through my Squeezo strainer. Then I reduce down the cider used by half or three-quarters and add that into the pureed apples - it naturally sweetens the sauce and adds a hint of caramel flavor. Also use cider rather than water or syrup when canning apple or pear slices/ much more better!
    And when we make cider, we add about 5% pears by wouldn't believe the difference it makes. It takes awesome cider to a whole new level of yummy-ness.

  7. I remember so well...

    Not pressing cider (we did not have a press or know anyone with one, such things were shamefully backward in the '80s and everyone we knew was desperate to prove they were progressive), but gathering apples with my grandmother from her brother-in-law's trees. They didn't use the apples, saw them as rather a nuisance in fact, and giving them to "poor Kenny's wife" was something of a dismissive act of not-quite-charity.

    Oh, we had so much fun!! Singing and laughing and tossing apples in old enameled wash pans!! Grandma would let me wear her pink-checked cobbler's apron to carry more apples, and I thought I was Laura Ingalls and all grown up all in the same breath.

    What I wouldn't give to be back there again. The trees are long gone, Grandpa is long gone, his brother-in-law has stroke-induced dementia, and Grandma is growing more feeble by the day (she's 91, though, so praise God for an excellent run). I can't go home. Home is gone. TEOTEWAWKI has done come and gone for the world I knew.

    What I can do, is take my littles out to collect apples, this very perfect October week, and build that world again. The old people are fading away rapidly. The joys we had, the rosebuds we gathered, the memories we made, and the lessons they taught me live on and on and on.

  8. We are harvesting enough apples from our trees now that I am starting to look for a cider press. Yours looks just like the one my dad had when we were growing up, but it is long since gone. If you don't mind my asking, where did you buy your press?

  9. How is Maid Elizabeth's house remodeling coming along?