Fruit Trees

Cider Time!

We finally completed most of our apple canning and preserving for the season.  We still have one bushel picked of nice, big ones that we plan to use for pie filling.  But there were still lots left hanging on the tree.  So I got out my long pole and started knocking them down to press for cider.

When making hand-pressed apple cider, you don’t worry about cuts or bruises on the fruit.  In fact, the bruises help “tenderize” the apples for chopping into mash.  So knocking them down with vigor and even violence is not a problem. (Just make sure you wear glasses or protective goggles … I learned my lesson last year with a trip to the eye doctor after getting my cornea scratched by falling fruit.  Stupid me!)

When I was done, I finished with about five bushels of apples.

Loaded in the truck and ready to go to the press.

So here is a pictorial description of the process.

My buddy, Tim, has a press that he restored.  It is a mid-1800’s antique.  I bought one for myself last year, but it still needs some restoration work, and I haven’t had time for that project yet.  So Tim is nice enough to let me use his.  Step one is to load the apples in to the hopper in small batches and crush them.  It’s labor intensive.  The apples are funneled into a steel chamber where they are crushed and shredded and fall out into the open-bottom basket below.

Apples go in the hopper, where they are chopped by turning the hand crank.

Still chopping and mashing!

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Categories: Apple Cider, Apples, Cider Press, Fruit Trees | Leave a comment

Cherry Jam Time!

After a couple of days of picking, I finally accumulated three quarts of ripe (or almost ripe) cherries.  It takes three quarts of raw product to yield one quart of cherries for processing.  I need one quart, chopped , to make a batch of Sour Cherry Jam.

Here are a few pics of the process:


Pitting cherries while watching a little TV …

Pitting is, without doubt, the longest and most labor intensive part of the process.  It takes a couple of house to pit three quarts.  Thank goodness I discovered this handy-dandy pitting tool at Wal-mart a couple of years ago!


The cherries have been chopped in the blender, and sugar has been added.



The concoction is about to boil, and the liquid pectin is on “stand-by,” ready to go in.



Boiling is done, foam skimmed.

There was a time when I used to throw the foam into the sink and rinse it down the drain.   Then I discovered how sweet and yummy it is!  So, now I save the foam, too.  I just put it in one of those handy little single-serving containers from KFC.  The congealed foam is awesome on toast!


Into the jars!


Into the boiler!

I know what some of you are thinking … “That’s a pressure cooker!”  Actually, it is.  I have a weird stove.  The burners are designed so that they actually will not boil water in a traditional boiling water canner.  I got so frustrated years ago when I couldn’t figure it out.  But it’s actually in the stinking manual!  So, now I just use my pressure canner.  I just let it sub for a canner.  It works just fine!


The final product! Sour Cherry Jam!


I finished with nine half-pints.  It made a perfect “set,” firm, but soooo spreadable.  And the taste!  It literally tastes like a slice of cherry pie in a jar!

I picked and pitted another three quarts this weekend.  So I’ll be firing up another batch on Monday morning.  I’m trying to get about fifteen jars total to sell at our local Farmer’s Market.

The recipe is really easy.  Just cherries, sugar, and pectin.  It’s the most labor-intensive jelly product that I make.  But it is so worth it!

Categories: Cherry Trees, Fruit Trees, Jams and Jellies, Orchard | Leave a comment

Cherry Pickin’! Jam Time Has Arrived!

I started picking my sour cherries yesterday morning.  I added more to the bowl today.  I had to go ahead and start bringing some in just a bit early … the birds are already working them over.

Hopefully, over the next two days I will be able to pick enough to get three quarts pitted and chopped … enough for three batches of my extra-yummy “Sour Cherry Jam!”

Here is a pic of the red beauties:


Sour cherries … they make the most awesome jam!

Categories: Cherry Trees, Fruit Trees, Garden | 5 Comments

It’s Almost Cherry Time!

I took a quick swing by my cherry trees when I fed the goats this morning.  It looks like we’re about 48 hours away from picking our first batch!


Just starting to turn ... we'll be making jam in a few days!


Now … if we can just keep the birds away!

Categories: Cherry Trees, Fruit Trees, Garden, Orchard | 2 Comments

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