What To Do With All Those Apples? We’ve Got Ideas!

WHEAT RIDGE HISTORICAL SOCIETY BOARD MEMBERS Bonnie Botham and Claudia Callas help president Don Wood with the cider press in preparation for Cider Day last year. COURTESY WHEAT RIDGE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

“An apple a day …”

Multiply that one apple by hundreds, and you have a beginning vision of the Cider Day Festival, the annual Historical Society’s celebration of “All Things Apple.”

Scheduled for Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Historical Park (4601 Robb St.), the biggest draw is, of course, the apple presses. Bring your apples, some clean containers and the kids. The wait in line breezes by; observing the press in action is fascinating.

Watch as they dump apples in the hopper and the grinder rotates round and round. Apples dart all over the place, almost as if they’re trying to escape. Once caught, they get properly squished as the grinder pummels them into a lumpy mush. You can see juice start to trickle down the spout at the bottom. That’s when you know it’s time for step two.

A long pole is used as a lever to tighten a giant screw mounted onto a wooden plate placed on top of the mashed apples. As two people rotate the pole round and round, the plate at the bottom compresses the apples, and out comes the cider into a container placed at the bottom of the spout.

That’s what participants get to take home for a small donation – tasty apple cider, lip-smackin’ good whether it’s chilled, consumed at room temperature or warmed with a cinnamon stick added. (Do refrigerate all leftovers, though.)

What happens to the leftover apple mash after the juice is pressed out? Well, rumor has it the chickens and goats at Fruitdale Farm just a block south are deliriously happy with the treats they get on this special Saturday night. 

However, the Historical Society’s Cider Day offers much more than the opportunity to press your own apples. Wander over to the old-fashioned apple peeler table and watch magic happen when an apple is mounted on the machine, a sharp peeler is positioned just so, and the crank starts. As the apple slowly rotates, a thin strand of peel winds downward into a waiting pan. Kids giggle as they gobble the strands like spaghetti. Meanwhile, the peeled apple gets chopped and readied for an aromatic apple pie.

Step over to the sauce-making station. Precooked apple mush oozes through a cone-shaped sieve, continually forced through holes by a wooden mallet. No sugar needed to sweeten this treat! It’s just the right balance of sweet and tart.

How about a charming, old-fashioned sachet that doubles as a Christmas tree ornament? Participants will be busy-busy when they pair a small ripe apple with a box of whole cloves and spend the afternoon chatting up friends while pressing the stems of the cloves deep into the apple. Add a pretty ribbon bow on the stem, and your house fills with the scent of apple pie. The process takes a while, and your fingertips will be glad when you’re done, but you’ll have an aromatic decoration that will last through the fall and into the holiday season. (Pssst, oranges work just as well!) 

Add some live music, lots of other craft demonstrations, and a few lawn games to challenge the kids, and you have a walloping fine day of family fun!

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