Coming back to my parent's house is like stepping into a produce jungle. Between apples, plums, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, beets, kale, yellow squash, and basil... something always seems to be in season. 

This time of year it's apples and even with only two apple trees I can't seem to escape this autumnal fruit. We tried giving them away in boxes, leaving them on the street corner and yet there are only so many apple pies one can leave on the window.

I mean, we have a friend who owns horses and even the horses got tired of eating the apples.

JJ Meyer

It took thousands of hours of researching, experimenting in the field, and reading ancient apple myths; but, it was worth it. Because fresh apple cider is one of the most delicious drinks you'll ever consume.

Ok, maybe I just did a Google search for ways to use apples, and maybe I bought a cheap cider press at Walmart, but apple cider is still a great solution.

Most importantly, the process is super simple. 

So let's get down to business. Here is how to make homemade apple cider. 

First step: mashing the apples

JJ Meyer

This part was harder than it sounds and that’s mostly my fault. I was cheap and didn’t want to buy a legit cider press for an experiment with my apple trees so I opted for a Walmart cider press. Thus, it didn't have the apple crusher attachment that most larger (and more legit) presses have. This ended up making my job five times harder. 

Even mushy apples are pretty difficult to crush without the right tools. If I do try to make homemade apple cider again, I’ll probably buy a heavy duty five gallon bucket and a pole for crushing apples into mash like these guys demonstrate. 

Since my cheap cider press didn't get the job done I tried using everything I could find; including a hammer, my feet, and even a frying pan.

JJ Meyer

My Super Smash Brother’s move combo for pulverizing these apples ultimately didn’t work. The apples turned into shards before mushing up and seeped through the bag.

Don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. This, my friends, is why technology exists. After some scrolling, I found out that I could use my food processor to make a small mashed apple batch. 

#SpoonTip: Beware of overfilling your apple crushing device. I also think a blend could be used if you don't have a food processor.  

JJ Meyer

Once you get into the rhythm, it goes by quickly: slice into quarters while the food processor is mashing, dump into bowl, and repeat. 

That being said, I wouldn’t advise it for a large scale operation because you’ll be mashing apples forever (2-3 minutes for 2 apples when you have hundreds/thousands of apples, the math isn’t in your favor).  

Onto packing the apple mash into the cider press.

I tried using a spoon at first to keep the apple mash off my hands, but your hands will be your best friend for this part. No tool is quite as suitable for getting apple mash into every nook and cranny as the good ol’ ten digits are.

My technique was to scoop the apple mash into a ball, then stab the center of the ball with the cider press’s central screw and push it down into the barrel.

JJ Meyer

Now crank that until you’re worried you’ll break the press.

Maybe if you’re Hercules you shouldn’t follow this instruction to the letter, but for an average strength person the press should be capable of taking more than you can give. Really press down on the apples, each drop is like liquid gold.

I would always let it sit and drain afterwards too since gravity will give you a little more while you work on your next batch of apple mash.

Time to remove the apple log.

So, now I have pressed all the liquid out of a bunch of shredded apples, compressing it into a tighter bundle. I've basically made a composite log of apple.

Throwing this away takes a little grit cause the log isn’t gonna be light. You’ve got pounds of apple in there at least. My advice is to remove the crank handle, spin the apple filled barrel around the screw in the middle (this loosens the apple log’s grip on the screw). Now, lift it up and take it to your trash can. 

The apple log is still pressing tightly against the slotted barrel walls so don’t worry, it won’t fall out of the barrel and all over your feet.

JJ Meyer

Spooning that stuff out is a huge pain; I bent a spoon trying. I’d advise you to lift up the barrel and start hitting the bottom edge against the top of the trash can. This will gently nudge the log out of your barrel press and into the trash can.

Don't forget to save the netting when it falls out with the log, you’ll want that for the next batch. Also, use a clean trashcan so the netting isn’t it’s own health hazard after a while.

#SpoonTip: If you do this outside, watch out for of hornets, bees, and wasps. They aren’t afraid of you and will threaten the whole apple cider process since they have an insatiable appetite for sweets. 

Regardless of the process, the outcome will be more cider than you'll know what to do with. So, think about making some donuts, sangria, or salmon. Fresh apple cider goes well in a plethora of dishes. 

Happy mashing!