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Malcolm’s hobby is apples. Everything about apples. He grafts apple trees, he identifies apples, he eats apples, he plants apples and he makes apple juice. He makes apple juice with an Apple Press. He had his apple press made in Paolo , Kansas at Happy Valley Ranch. It was shipped to Winton in pieces and he put it together. It’s a rather impressive piece of equipment.

One Thursday, we drove from Winton to Riverton, where they have a beach house. Today was some kind of promotion for the Environment Center that Malcolm is a member of (he is a member/ head of nearly every community board you can think of). The Environment Center had asked him to bring his apple press to be used by the public. Rather, he’d bring the press and the laborers and the public would bring their apples to be pressed into apple juice for a small donation.

We left the farm a bit before nine and arrived in Riverton a bit before 10. We had to first go to the house and drop off our perishables and luggage, we were staying the night because he had a different community board meeting that evening. Soon after, we went to the Environment Center to set up.

Not long after we started to put everything together, a young couple and two young children show up with a box of apples. The children were super excited about pressing the apples! They even wanted to turn the handle (which is more difficult than it looks).

Well, Malcolm had left the most important part of the apple press in the shed . On the Farm. In Winton. It would take him an hour and a half, at least, to get there and back. He apologized profusely to the family. They didn’t seem too concerned and were more than happy to come back later.

Now, for a bit more about the press. The apple press consists of a boxed in wooden shoot that feeds into a mincer. The mincer is turned by a big iron wheel that is turned by hand to turn the blades of the mincer (The mincer looks a bit like what plucks the wires on a music box). Underneath this device is a slatted, wooden bottomless bucket with a mesh bag liner. You feed the apples into the shoot, they get shredded in the mincer (if poor Eamonn or I is turning it) and the little bits go into the bucket.

There are two of these buckets. One is under the shoot and the other, once full of minced apple, is under the press. The press is a big screw that is screwed down by hand onto a wooden lid that is put on the bucket full of apple bits. As the screw is wound down, the lid presses the apples. Juice comes out.

Both of these buckets are sitting on slatted wooden frames. The juice runs through these wooden frames, is caught by the solid wood base and funneled towards a hole at the opposite end from the shoot. Under the hole is a bucket to collect the juice. Tada. It was a lot harder than it looked. Well, it wasn’t so much hard as a good work out and after a few hours, a bit repetitive.

Finally, Malcolm returned with the screw and we began to press. It was non stop pressing for a good few hours. The first taste of fresh pressed apple juice was DIVINE. It was crisp, clear and a deep nutty brown. It was beautiful. The nectar of the Gods. We were only able to taste two other samples of juice. One was terrible and full of bits, the man hadn’t washed his apples before so spiders and other unsavory things were getting into his juice. The other was from the apples we brought with us and it was decent. Not as nice as the first taste of some random woman’s (thanks lady).

The young family was our last customer of the day. They didn’t have many apples. Only one bucket full of shredded apples. We were surprised when they got 4 bottles of juice from it! And this juice was clear and a wonderful pale brown. Oh, how I wanted to try it! Alas, we didn’t get to sample that nectar.

After they left happy and carrying bottles of apple juice, we loaded everything back onto the trailer and headed to the beach house for a housing down.

That night back at the beach house, Eamonn and I started a WasiJig. WasiJigs are a puzzle. The catch is that the picture on the box is NOT the picture on the puzzle. The picture on the box and a few hints are clues to what putting the puzzle together will reveal. I hope I can find some in the US, they are so much fun (if not a bit frustrating at times). Unfortunately, we couldn’t possibly finish the puzzle in one evening, so we wont get to see what it turns out to be!