Living in Big Bear is rough!
Author Timmy Eaton / Category Fermentation Experimentation / Published: February 2019
The clean air, the smell of pine trees, my tiny cabin and mountain bike trails at the end of the street. Rough huh? Well it seems every time I’m home with some free time, I get friends or family coming by wanting to ride bikes or hang out! Its actually pretty awesome, but it doesn’t leave me with much free time to maintain the property and do my chores with all the travel I do!
I love doing my chores! Especially ones like chopping firewood, tinkering in the garage, raking pine needles and maintaining my garden. I have blackberries, a pear tree, sage, mint, rosemary and 2 mature apple trees. This past summer my 2 apple trees on the property went crazy. Branches were literally breaking under the load of all the fruit hanging. The UPS driver came to the door once and asked me to cut the tree back because he couldn’t get his truck thru…as he was chewing on one of my apples!
"Branches were literally breaking under the load of all the fruit hanging."
I hated the thought of wasting these amazing apples so I began sending my guests out to the trees with grocery bags to fill with apples to take home with them. If I was going to entertain them by riding mountain bikes, bbq-ing in the back yard, throwing axes in the throwing range, fixing their bikes, or teaching them how to ride a dirt bike, the least they could do is help me manage my apple trees hah!
All my efforts to use the apples failed, despite taking 50 pounds of fruit to a family friend to make apple pies for Thanksgiving.
"We made an incredible sticky mess, broke our cider press, bought a juicer, broke that juicer, then returned that juicer..."
I wanted the cabin to be a place we could all enjoy together and I felt the massive yield of the apple trees should be shared!
My buddy Scott suggested we make a hard apple cider and I was immediately sold!
We made an incredible sticky mess, broke our cider press, bought a juicer, broke that juicer, returned that juicer etc. It was an absolute blast. In the end, we were able to get almost 10 gallons of raw cider. Felt like a kid on Christmas each step of the process until bottle conditioning was complete and we were tasting our Hard Apple Cider.
In A Glass of Cider It seemed I was a mite of sediment That waited for the bottom to ferment So I could catch a bubble in ascent. I rode up on one till the bubble burst, And when that left me to sink back reversed I was no worse off than I was at first. I'd catch another bubble if I waited. The thing was to get now and then elated.
— Robert Frost
It was a lot of work! But damnit, it was rewarding! That property in Big Bear is very special to me. I was able to bottle my love of that place in alcoholic form to share with friends who may never make it up for a visit. It has been an unexpected and fun result. Sometimes things work out in the end like you’d never expect.