Homemade Apple Hooch

via smut-to-go

This past Friday my bud Vaughn and I went over to our friend Tony’s place to learn how to make hard apple cider. The experience definitely ranks as one of the highlights of this year for me! Tony is a multi-skilled dude who also makes custom bikes (tall bikes, etc), bread ovens and can balance a budget like nobody’s business in one of his lives as a bookkeeper. Cool, you know? Check out his upcoming build-your-own-custom-bike workshop. Tony has an old apple press and all the gear we needed in his NDG basement.

Tony on his "grill bike" with an attached tall bike in tow for transport home after a BBQ. Nuts.

Once we determined that we three wanted to make some apple-y hooch, Tony estimated that we’d need about 275lbs of apples which is about 68 bags of bargain-priced Quebec apples (24 cents a pound) which would mean that the three of us will walk away with approximately 22 litres of hard apple cider each (and apple juice) when all is said and done. Suh-weet! “We’re gonna get crunked” as one of us noted.

Apple pile!

OK, I won’t be able to describe the entire process here (or at least not accurately!) so the basic steps were: clean gear, clean apples, grind apples, squeeze apple pulp, filter apple juice, bottle apple juice, add yeast, cap bottles, clean gear. I didn’t capture all of those steps with my camera! It took about five hours or so. Not counting our two hour lunch break where we had pizza and two near death experiences. (We took some time to help out with the construction of a second floor balcony and the ladders/materials kept slipping and falling. So neighbours were called, more muscle and energy was thus mustered and everything ended well!)

Tony picked up this medieval-looking apples press up off the side of the road (put there by a nice gent) and it was FREE! Even the cost of the wood part of the press ended up gratuit. Yessss.

Handmade apple grinder. The apple guts fall into a pillowcase-lined bucket below. Pillowcases of guts are then stacked and squeezed in the press.

The juice starts off dark and opaque...

...After the sediment settles and the juice is poured off/fermented/etc it sorta looks like this in the bottle. Yay!

Here’s a wee video from the day. Some elements you don’t get from all of this media are: the incredibly delicious and lovely scent of apples, the taste of the apples, the physicality of pressing down on the apples as they’re ground, the weight of the iron parts and bar of the press itself, the beautiful glass bottles that hold the fermenting juice (called carboys), the tiredness and the fastidious disinfecting and subsequent clean-up.

And then we jammed.



  1. That apple cider looks delicious. I’m not sure why but a random thought of you popped in my head today and decided to google you to see what you’ve been up to since the random party we met at like 10 years ago. Funny thing is.. you were literally across the street from me making apple cider… that balcony you were building is directly opposite mine. been watching them put it up and all the while waiting for my landlord to finish building mine (which he started in june and still hasn’t finished). Congrats on what appears to be your many successes (blog, band, etc.) maybe i’ll catch u on my block fixin tony’s balcony again sometime =)

  2. Pingback: Homemade Apple Hooch, part deux! «

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