In-cider scoop: Fruit im-pressing
It is quite possible that, with the help of some good old down-home mechanical know how and gumption, the whole fall-from-the-Garden-of-Eden thing might have been averted on a technicality: “Whoa, whoa- we didn’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge. We juiced it.”
Apples are a funny fruit. Alternatively sweet, tart, mealy, wormy, bland, leathery, puckered, poochy, crisp, soft, and/or juicy, they are the tree-grown equivalent of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. Generally speaking, you never know what you’re going to get.
One thing we do know in Rossland is that we will get apples. Even in a lacklustre year such as this, there is still bound to be a harvest of some significance, and where apples drop, there are bound to be bears.
Enter the Golden City’s second annual community fruit pressing day.
A joint undertaking of Rossland Real Food, Bear Aware, and the Harvest Rescue program, October 3rd sees the triumphant return of Growly The Apple Grinder and Cider Press into the hands and hearts of eager locals (many thanks to Marty Cancilla for housing old Growly these many years- you’re like the guy that takes care of the Stanley Cup- awesome).
This year, the event takes place at the Rossland Community Garden (another Rossland Real Food initiative) located at the north end of the RSS playing field. Scheduled to run from 9:30 through 3:30, volunteer Rachael Roussin emphasizes the importance of phoning and booking a time to juice your fruits (apples only, as fruit with pits or stones (eg. Plums) can beat up the newly restored system).
“The community fruit pressing was such a successful event last year, so many people came out, that we knew we would have to organize and schedule access to the press this time,” says Roussin. “Rossland Real Food has taken [juicing] on as a program because of the local focus, and the community-based approach.”
Roussin can be contacted for booking times at (250) 362-5452.
Renowned for her mulled apple cider at many a cross-country ski cabin mission this past season, she encourages participants and curious onlookers to come out and enjoy the fruits of the fall.
“This sort of activity connects us more to where we live, connects us to the seasons. And why buy concentrate when you can put in some time, keep apples out of the garbage, remove bear attractants, and have enough juice for the year? You can freeze it, can it… you can ferment it.”
Ah yes, fermentation. Plenty of folks revved up their virginal AJ last year with a good dose of priming sugar and all kinds of yeast types, from champagne yeast, to standard wine and beer yeasts. Results were mixed (my own batch took a lonnnng time to mellow out the Dimethyl Sulfide odour), but in the end most of the results achieved their intended purpose. Notes on fermentation temperatures, time, and sanitation were made, modified game plans for this year prepped for the 3rd.
And modification, adaptation, and cooperation figure heavily into this year’s fruit pressing; regardless of whether you intend to freeze your juice or amp it up, when you are tipping your pint at some later date, remember to toast not only Bear Aware and Rossland Real Food, but another local volunteer who also helped make this year’s event possible.
I caught up with Tyson Frank of Tycor Climate Control (Refrigeration, A/C and Natural Gas) to get his take on improvements he has made to Growly in the off-season; Frank was responsible for various upgrades and improvements to the juice press, and is confident the system will operate even more smoothly this time around.
Volunteering his time, labour, and considerable experience, Frank spoke to Growly’s lineage and upgrades as he walked me through some of the new features the press will be sporting this coming Sunday.
“Well, first of all, to build something like this from scratch you would need a machine shop,” Frank explained, pointing out some of the original parts still figuring into the new design. “My guess is that it may have been put together by someone that worked at Teck, or at least had access to industrial tools.”
Last year, a non-grounded electrical cord necessitated rubber gloves for plugging in and out, the motor had a pronounced death rattle, the sheaves were toast, the drive belt was the equivalent of a rope to keep your pants up, and the mount was an old door hinge (!).
Growly needed a serious makeover, and Frank obliged. Tyson has replaced the old motor with a beastly little half horsepower motor, rewired the electrical, and over-hauled the entire system. Picture a horse-drawn carriage turned into a nitrous equipped muscle car.
“It’s still noisy,” Frank notes, “but that’s part of the fun, right?”
Stacked on a pair of milk crates, Growly’s jaws don’t look like much, but I expect that set back atop the pressing barrel on Sunday, raised up to his full height, Growly will cut an imposing figure. I enquire of Tyson as to whether someone could lose digits if not extending Growly the proper respect he deserves.
“Oh, you betcha,” Frank nods. “This is a serious piece of equipment.”
Plugging it in, it certainly sounds serious. Watch out apples. Growly doesn’t purr like a kitten, but he’s definitely the cat’s meow.
See you at the Community Fruit Pressing this Sunday, October 3rd from 9:30 to 3:30 at the Community Garden.