September 22, 2011

Fresh Apple Cider and a Drunk Moose



     Cider making extends back into the history of the United States, as this early 1800s excerpt from a diary written by LA MARQUISE DE LA TOUR DU PIN tells us:

     But to return to our apples. The cider mill was very primitive. It consisted of two pieces of channelled wood which fitted into each other, and was turned by our horse attached to a pole. The apples were fed into a hopper, and when the juice had filled a large tub, it was taken to the cellar and poured into the casks.

     The whole operation was very simple and, as we had very fine weather, this harvest was a charming recreation. My son who rode the horse during the day was convinced that without him nothing could have been done.

     When the work was finished, we found ourselves provided with eight or ten barrels to sell, in addition to what we had reserved for ourselves.

     Our reputation for honesty was so great that people had confidence that we would not put any water into our cider. This enabled us to sell it at double the ordinary price, and all was sold at once. As for that which we had reserved for ourselves, we treated it exactly as we would have done with our white wine at Le Bouilh.*


     Although my husband and I no longer amass up gallons of apple cider, there was a time we canned seventy gallons of the stuff.

     We gathered the gallons of golden liquid in two ways.

  •      Most of the time, we would collect apples from any place we could. The park in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, where we lived, was a gold mine. It had the remains of what must have been an apple orchard. The trees dropped many apples which few people wanted, so we spent time piling them in boxes and cartons. When we had what we thought was a sufficient amount—or when we ran out of space in our van—we headed up to an Amish cider mill in New Wilmington.
  •      The second way was easier. One year we attended the Slippery Rock Fireman’s Auction. They auctioned off cider by the gallon. When the bids slowed down, they auctioned it off in lots of six, ten, twelve…and finally, the whole lot that remained. Monte bid on the final lot, and we headed home with seventy gallons of cider.

     We had four large kettles boiling. Two were to heat the cider to just below the boiling point. The other two held jars of cider set in hot water and boiled for the appropriate amount of time.

     We took turns sleeping that night, a Saturday night. By morning, the task was completed, and we had a winter’s supply of apple juice. Amazingly, we attended Sunday school and church that morning.

     We were reminded of this when we arrived at the Farmers & Threshermens Jubilee in Somerset, Pennsylvania on September 8, 2011. There was a marvelous apple cider setup in a barn. We watched them rev up the xxx and push the apples from a wooden box onto the lift. The apples came out as a mash, which, when it was pressed, released its golden juice. The unpasteurized apple cider was simply delicious, something I hadn’t tasted for years, since stores are no longer allowed to sell anything but a pasteurized product.


     Moving on to Saro, Sweden, September 7th.  A moose there must have seen the same value in apple drops as we did during the years we gathered them to make cider. It appeared that he overly feasted on both the apples remaining on the tree and some apple drops:

It was a dark, windy and rainy night… raining really bad, reported Per Johansson told CNN. In the wind I heard something screaming with a very dark voice.  At first I wondered if it was the crazy neighbors, but then I heard it again and went and checked. I saw something really big up in a tree in my neighbors’ yard and it was a moose.

     Apparently, finding a drunk moose during the apple season isn’t unusual, according to Anders Gardhagen, spokesman at the Gothenburg Fire and Rescue Services.: Moose are attracted by the apple trees, and in the autumn when the apples have fallen off the trees we normally have at least one of these cases of intoxication.  These apples, which ferment in their bellies, aren’t part of their natural food, so they can get quite angry from this drunkenness.

     Anders Gardhagen said the fire and rescue station received a 9:59 p. m. alarm that a moose was stuck in a tree. They bent the apple tree down with a wench, allowing the moose to free himself, after which it collapsed on the ground and fell asleep.


     Although moose aren’t natural residents of the mountainous Southwestern Pennsylvania woodlands, Monte and I often travel through Maine during the fall. Along the way we see frequent signs warning us to BREAK FOR MOOSE. Should one run into our path on a future visit there, I will wonder if it is drunk from eating apples it has bitten off of trees or apple drops it found on the ground.

     That is, if my thoughts are not on the accident that is likely to occur if our vehicle actually hits the moose.

     Meanwhile, I will enjoy unpasteurized apple cider, while enjoying my fond memories, any time an opportunity arises.

     And these are my apple cider stories for the year 2011.






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Flax scutching in Pennsylvania & Europe

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