Tag Archives: cider

Thinking About Drinking

It’s autumn, and I need a drink.

It’s partly because autumn is my least favourite season, but mainly because the crabapples are ripe.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember I mentioned I love food and I’m helplessly addicted to gardening.

The result of those traits is a back yard containing an apple tree, a crabapple tree, grapevines, raspberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, haskaps (a very cool variety of honeysuckle with fruit like blueberries on steroids), strawberries, asparagus, a hazelnut tree, and a greenhouse full of tomatoes and peppers.  My “real” garden is about 3,000 square feet of vegetables outside the city.

The back yard in mid-summer when it still looked nice

The star of the backyard show is the crabapple tree.  Every year, it droops under the weight of its crop –  deliciously sweet-tart, juicy blush-pink apples.  (The variety is Rescue, in case there are any other hungry gardeners out there.)  Every year, I cart away a couple of wheelbarrow-loads of crabapples.  I make jelly, fruit leather, applesauce, and spiced crabapples.  Then if there are leftovers, I ferment them into hard cider.

This process begins with an explosion of pulverized crabapples and ends with a product that ranges from rotgut to rocket fuel to rot (if I don’t get a high enough alcohol content).

Juicing was a laborious process until a few years ago when Hubby bought me one of those newfangled kick-ass juicers – yet another reason why he’s on the best-husband-ever list.  The new juicer works like a dream… except for one thing.  No matter how fast I slam the pusher into the chute after adding a handful of apples, the shredding action is so aggressive that bits spray everywhere.  The first time I used it, I was picking apple flecks out of my eyebrows and off the ceiling.

This year I wised up and did the juicing on the back deck where I could hose everything off afterward.  (The neighbours didn’t even bat an eye.  After the radish/toilet incident, they’re probably afraid to ask.)

Once all the juicing is done, it’s a glorious exercise in hope.  What yeast should I use this year?  What part of the process will I tweak to get the absolutely perfect batch of cider?  Then there’s fermentation, racking, fining, bottling with just the right amount of added sugar to get a delicious sparkle in the finished product.

Then there are months of anticipation.  It takes about a year before the final product is ready.

Then comes the first taste… and the final classification:  rotgut, rocket fuel, or rot.  But I keep hoping somehow, some year, I’ll magically produce something drinkable.  Well, something other people might consider drinkable.  I drink it anyway…

But in the mean time, all that work and hope has made me thirsty.  Think I’ll crack open a bought beer.  At least I know it’ll be good.

What’s your favourite autumn beverage?

Oh, and loosely related to gardening:  I can’t believe I actually managed to snap a bee in mid-flight in my garden a few days ago:

Bee in flight just below the smaller sunflower

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