Making cider and memories

Growing up on a farm, I had a lot of childhood memories.

I was hoping my children would also have some of those same memories, but that idea was crushed when my parents decided to sell their Minnesota dairy farm.

They needed to; and it was time, but it was still hard to say goodbye to the old homestead.

This was numerous years ago. I cannot even remember what year, but this week I was reminded that my children can still have great childhood memories without a farm.

My family recently made a trip to visit my husband’s parents home in Montana. His parents have an apple orchard. At least, that is what I call it. They have mcintosh, heyer, sweet 16 and red delicious apples.

When we arrived, it was prime time, apple picking time as the mcintosh and sweet 16 apples were ready to harvest.

My husband and I planned the trip so we could help with this year’s apple harvest. My sons John, 2, and Matthew, 4, were excited to pick apples and get a ride out to the orchard on a 4 wheeler driven by their Papa John.

Once we all arrived at the orchard, my kids immediately started grabbing apples. They were not at all interested in picking them, but eating them. Once I made sure there were no worms in the apples they grabbed off the ground, I let them enjoy the sweet taste of fresh-off-the tree apples. There is just no apple that tastes better than one picked right off of the tree.

I can honestly say, I had more than my fair share of apples; and I may even go a bit further and confess that I may have slightly overindulged. They were just that delicious.

As my children ate apples, the rest of us picked apples until the 4 wheeler trailer and all of our boxes were full. When we looked around we realized we had merely scratched the surface. After two more days of picking, five barrels full, we had most of them.

Then, the weather changed and so did our plans.

We decided to try out the new apple press the family gave Papa John and Grammie Bonnie for Christmas. With any new purchase, it takes a while to learn how to work it. We quickly discovered the best way to make apple cider.

First, we washed the apples. Then, we cut out any imperfections, and quartered or halved the apples based on size. Next, we put them into a food processor to chop them up and then we dumped them into the apple press.

We were not expecting cider to just run out, but all of a sudden we hear my son Matthew yell “It’s leaking you guys.” A quick glance out the window confirmed what he said, cider was running all over the ground. Papa John quickly put a bucket underneath.


We used one huge box of apples to make about four gallons of cider. We were happy with the results. Next, we all learned the best apple cider comes straight from fresh apples. We drank a lot, more than we probably should have, and put the rest into glass jars to freeze and enjoy later.

This is a memory I am sure all of us will cherish. It was the first year we made Thompson’s Apple Cider, that is what I call it, together. I hope this can become an annual or biennial tradition.


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