ex-cidered to be partially Washingtonian
After living here for ten years, I think I might finally be turning into a real Washingtonian–or, at least partially so. I suppose I can never truly be considered a full-blooded Washingtonian seeing as how I was born and raised in California. And I would venture to guess if word spread that I was calling myself a local, and then the truth got out, Bill Gates and Frasier would surely kick me out and send me back to California in no time. But now, as love knows no bounds, I am enamored with both states, so perhaps no one will mind if I just hop back and forth and claim dual stateship (I just made that word up but plan to write the concept into law soon-ish).
I was conveniently already addicted to caffeine before I left California, but over the years I have adopted some other telling traits of the Washington locals such as:
- I don’t ever use an umbrella (rain shmain).
- I obligingly hate Washington State University (Go Huskies!).
- I desperately avoid venturing into Pike Place Market most days of the year, especially the three sunny ones.
- I love Canadians.
- I don’t own any formal clothing of any kind.
- I know at least one real-life logger and/or hunter.
- “The rainshadow effect,” “partly cloudy,” and “showers” are standards in my vocabulary.
- I have finally stopped searching for my tequila fix at Trader Joe’s and become accustomed to the idea of a state run liquor store.
- I have even succumb to a certain dogma of the locals I once found extremely irritating when I first moved here, which is to defend the incessant rain and call it “cleansing” and “refreshing,” as opposed to what it really is, which is just cold and wet.
But today, I experienced a Washingtonian milestone. I didn’t sip a Starbucks caramel-orange-hazelnut-banana frappa-macchiato with Tom Skerrit, climb Mount Rainier with Dale Chihuly, or wear socks with sandals. Today, my friends, I went to my first apple cider pressing party.
Some friends have made an adorable and tasty fall tradition of pressing Washington apples for cider (plain, spiced, and hard) and I was lucky enough to partake in the festivities this year. The project starts with a ridiculous amount of apples. 600 pounds to be exact. A variety of different organic apples were used, all from Tonnemaker Family Orchards in Royal City, Washington. Farm owner and operator, Kurt Tonnemaker, delivered an entire palette of apples right to hosts Audrey and Nathan’s doorstep.
The apples are rinsed, cut in half or quartered, and any major bruises cut out.
Then they go in the bicycle-powered apple mill. That’s right. I said the BICYCLE-POWERED APPLE MILL:
This thing was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Apparently, Nathan and Audrey’s landlord is quite the handyman and built it in hopes of one day, being a bicycle-powered apple mill-making entrepreneur of sorts. Although, from what I understood, things didn’t really take off in the bike-powered mill-making sector quite like he had hoped, but at least this early prototype of his was being put to good use.
The apples are milled into a mush of flesh, skins, and seeds, which is then pressed to extract all the delicious juice.
We were drinking the absurdly fresh juice straight out of the barrel, but on this chilly October afternoon, the beverage of choice was the hot spiced cider (with a splash of brandy of course).
The mush becomes compost,
and the rest of the juice was either bottled up for later,
or dumped into a giant vat over a propane stove to be pasteurized for making hard cider.
For the hard cider, after the juice reaches 200 degrees, it is then pumped into a keg with some yeast and left to ferment for a few months.
Then it will be bottled and, if you can resist the temptation, preferably aged until the next year’s pressing.
So there you have it. Despite my California roots, today I demonstrated my affection for apple country, exercised my partial Washingtonian-ness, and loved every minute of it. But, despite this momentous occasion, let the record state that as a California native, I still will never use the word “pop” instead of “soda”, drive slower than the speed limit on the freeway, consider the piddly Nisqually earthquake a significant one, or understand where all your swimming pools went.