Photo by David Rauzi
(L-R) Dennis Albers and Daryl Mullinix pour ground-up apples into the press.
As of Tuesday, October 9, 2018
GRANGEVILLE For some, fall is a season to enjoy the foliage change into reds and golds, for reviving the warmth of the wood stove. It’s also a time to press apples.
The regular sound of a hand crank sang through the air amidst the chopping of apples at the Daryl and Linda Mullinix home last Thursday, Oct. 4. Friends Dennis and Margaret Albers joined the Mullinix’s as they worked several hours that afternoon in a process of turning apples into sweet cider.
Mixologist for the afternoon, Dennis, explained the ratio he uses for a good cider.
“Half granny smiths, because we have a lot of them, and then half with a sweeter apple or pear,” he said, “because you can’t take too much granny smith because it’s too sour.”
A variety of apples – among them red and yellow delicious, jonathan — and some pears – red and yellow Anjou, and bosc — were gathered in the past few weeks off their orchards in town and also on property along the Salmon River. From the stacked boxes in the shop, fruit is run through a two-bath wash, then to the chopping table that removes worm damage and makes for cuttings manageable for the auger, which grinds them down further. This mash is then placed within a mesh bag and placed within a hand-operated circular press that squeezes juice into a catch trough that drains into a pitcher below.
Mash is removed and used for garden compost.
“It makes a good product,” Mullinix said of the mash compost. “The only other thing is, I end up with 10,000 little apple trees next year,” he smiled.
In this afternoon, they expected to churn out 15 gallons of cider, which they’ll freeze to enjoy during the coming months. Or less…
“It depends on how bad the kids raid our freezer,” Mullinix said.
This is an annual event for the group for the past eight years, a hobby that results in sweet juice or in some fruit left for baking purposes.
“I like to do this, I grew up as a child doing this,” Mullinix said, his first experience of which was with his grandmother. Historically, with the homesteaders, planting apple trees was part of the operation that would provide food for the family. “You didn’t’ have Costco back then. If you wanted to eat it, you had to grow it.”
Apple pressing is not uncommon across Idaho County, both in individual efforts such as this, to more organized community events. Besides cider, the pressed juice can be made into vinegar. Other kinds of fruits, such as grapes or cherries, can be pressed into juice, as well. Presses can be either manual or electric power. Finding his press, Mullinix did some online research to find one that fit his production needs.