Making Cider the Old-Fashioned Way

    Hank’s Grandpa Huckins’s cider press received its patent in 1872. It was well-used for generations. Finally the wooden parts rotted away. When Don Frick found it a few years ago, it was just a pile of cast-iron pieces. This gifted jack-of-all-trades saw possibilities in the fragments, so he saved them.

    Then, while visiting the museum in the northwest Washington community of Lyndon, he saw the same type of press on display, all the pieces in place and the wooden sections in good condition. He asked permission to take photographs and measurements, then went home and replicated the missing parts. A few cast iron fittings were also missing, so he had them reproduced in brass. He cleaned and reassembled the cider press. It worked!

    Here’s how to make cider the old fashioned way:

First, pick your apples. They don’t have to be perfect.

Next, wash the apples and chop into quarters.

Pour the apple pieces into the hopper.
Turn the crank to grind the apples. Repeat until the wooden barrel is full.
Center the full bucket under the press, put the template over the apples, and turn the handle to squeeze the juice from the ground fruit. (The barrel has a removable bottom. A net is place inside before the apples go in.)    

Don uses a straight-grained three x four for added leverage. The cider runs between the wooden slats of the container and through a cheese-cloth filter into the metal bucket. A second container of apple waits to become cider. The leftover pulp makes a treat for visiting deer.  

 Almost done. Now the cider goes into a stainless steel vat to be heated over a gas burner to a temperature of 172 degrees. If allowed to get too hot, the pectin in the juice will separate out, ruining the cider.

The pasturized cider goes into jugs. It will keep unfrozen for a couple of weeks, or can be frozen indefinitely.

A tall glass of chilled cider. Delicious!

Lois Blythe, an Extraordinary Heritage of Love

An ordinary saint went home to heaven this week. Lois Larson Blythe looked like the Scandanavian she was: sturdy, strong-jawed, with busy hands and a firm will. She lived more than sixty years in the same community and was happy to be part of it. Her blue eyes could snap with humor, gentle with love, or flash a stern teacher-look that could make even a grown-up former student straighten in his seat.

The young preacher assisting at her memorial service remembered his first meeting with her. She was subbing for his regular teacher. He was five years old and had done something out of line. He felt a yank on his ear and looked up to see her looking down at him with “that” expression in her eye. She told him to mind his manners, and he obeyed immediately. But he knew she loved him.

Her husband Norman was the love of Lois’s life. When they married, she came to live on the Blythe family homestead in the Robe Valley. That’s where they raised their three children and spent most of their married life. When the valley men organized a volunteer fire department, Lois helped to organize a ladies’ auxiliary, the Robe Fire Belles and became a moving force in the fund raising activities that purchased much of the equipment needed for the fire department. She was a long-time member of the Granite Falls Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, where she was “Grandma Blythe” to the church’s children.  She was actively involved with the Granite Falls Historical Society and Granite’s beautiful new museum.

When she and Norman moved down the road to Granite Falls, Lois’s antique grand piano went along. She loved to sing and play the piano, and played for anyone who asked. She kept fresh-baked cookies on hand for the children and adults who stopped by to visit. She listened with her whole self, but when she spoke, people paid attention. Her nine grandchildren, always her pride and joy, knew Grandma was no one to fool with.

She planned her own memorial service, picking joyous, triumphant scripture passages and songs that beautifully expressed the faith she lived by. As she said of herself in her obituary, “Granite Falls is where she lived and heaven is now her home.” Lois Blythe might have been an ordinary type of saint, but she left an extraordinary heritage of love for others.

 Click for more about Lois’s piano: