Apple Cider From ‘Kingston Black’ Cider Apples

Over the weekend we picked our ‘Kingston Black’ cider apples and got them turned into some great apple cider. 

Here is the subject:

'Kingston Black' cider apple

This is the first year that I’ve ever let this apple tree bear fruit, and so it’s been a bit of an adventure because I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  This is a tree I grafted back in 2006, and it is a part of my espaliered Belgian fence that is in our backyard (see here for more on the Belgian fence.)  The tree variety, or scionwood, was grafted onto an M-27 rootstock, which produces a mini-dwarf apple tree that reaches only four to six feet in height at maturity.  I had to wait a few years (five) before the fruit trees filled in the frame with their branches before I could let them fruit, otherwise they would have been stunted and never filled in the frame.  So this is the first producing year with them.  I selected the ‘Kingston Black’ variety of cider apple because normally you have to mix two different types of apples–a tart variety and a sweet variety– in order to produce a good-tasting cider, but with this variety they taste great on their own, so it was a simpler deal all around.

Since it was the first year it produced, there was only a small crop, but we took what we had to the Community Cider Pressing in Vancouver, Washington.  It was a part of the Old Apple Tree Festival, which celebrates the oldest European apple tree in the Pacific Northwest–it was planted in 1826, and the cider pressing was held at the “feet” of the Old Apple Tree.  We had to be careful to only use apples that we had just picked from the tree–they would not accept “windfall” apples that had lain on the ground, or bruised apples, nor could they have any soil on them.    Because this was a community event, they had to follow health regulations and dip the apples in a sanitation bath prior to pressing. 

The Old Apple Tree has an interesting story from history–from the cider-pressing announcement:  “In 1830 Clark County’s first apple harvest occurred–one apple.  Planted near Fort Vancouver in 1826, the Old Apple Tree is considered the oldest in the Northwest and the matriarch of Washington State’s apple industry.  Its modest beginning has been traced to the whimsical flirtations of an English woman in 1825.  Historians have learned from diary entries that Lt. Aemillus Simpson, an officer in the Royal Navy, was attending a formal dinner on the eve of his departure to the rugged Pacific Northwest.  At that dinner, a young woman admirer collected some apple seeds left over from the fruit dessert and dropped the seeds in Lt. Simpson’s dinner jacket pocket saying, “Plant these when you reach your Northwest wilderness.”  Simpson forgot about the seeds until he found them in his pocket months later at Fort Vancouver.  In 1826, under the direction of Dr. John McLoughlin, gardener James Bruce planted the seeds.  Of the five original apples trees, the Old Apple Tree is the only one remaining.  It has withstood decades of flood, storms, ice and the steady encroachment of development, the railroad and State Route 14.”  I love a good story like that!

Anyway, more pictures from the cider pressing:

One type of cider press

This one looks kind of old-timey, doesn’t it?

Another type of cider press

Basically, the apples get put into the bin at the top, and a handle is turned to crush the apples.  Afterwards, a press is used to push down hard on the apple mash to extract the juice from it.  The juice comes out of the bottom of the press, where it is collected in bowls, and then it’s strained and transferred to the container that we brought with us.

Final result:

Finished apple cider!

Let me just say that I did not realize what a messy process apple cider pressing is.  Also, just to be on the safe side, I did boil the cider when I got it home to kill any germs it might have come in contact with at the pressing site, and I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg because it just seemed like the thing to do–the house smelled so good!

So that was my gardening adventure of late–what have been yours?  Leave me a comment–I love to hear from you!  And visit the garden party. 



1 Comment

  1. October 11, 2011 at 3:31 am

    I didn’t know there were such things as community presses- fun idea. I’m glad my stepdad is a builder- he built the one we use every year, but you’re right- when we’re done with apple day, we’re all a big sticky mess! 🙂

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