Another Israeli Kitchen – Baroness Tapuzina Food Adventure!
An email from Denny Nielson appeared in my Inbox. “We’re going to press apples for cider. Want to come?”
Did we ever. The Tapuzinas (if I may call the Baroness and her good hubby that) had come over for dinner and we were all feeling kind of full and expansive. The Baroness thought it would be an adventure. Mr. B.T. was excited at the thought of home-brewed “scrumpy,” which seems to be the same as “hard cider,” only in British. Me, I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia for juice pressed out of real, live apples, like I used to drink in my Michigan childhood.
So we joined up last Friday and sped through the central plains on to the hills outside of Jerusalem, in search of cider. Denny’s home and homebrew supply store are located in Mevasseret Tzion, where nights are cool and a home-owner might grow a grapevine to twist over a garden wall. We opened the gate and climbed up stone steps to a sunny patio where people were standing around watching the apples getting crushed.
It was like crushing grapes. Throw the apples into the hopper, and press the button.
The lathe inside the crusher bumps and grinds, spitting apple particles all over you if you stand too close, and the pulp drops into a bucket underneath.
Take the bucketful to the press,
and get a nice strong volunteer to twist the rachet around till the pulp yields no more juice.
Strain the juice and measure it out. Add some sulfite to avoid spoilage.
That was all. The rest of the work is done at home. You throw some wine yeast into the juice, which already wants to start fermenting, and close the bucket (in my case a carboy) with an airlock. Airlocks are the plastic widgies that, filled with sanitized water or a mixture of water and vodka, allow the gases produced by fermentation to escape, while forbidding insects, dust, or bad mojo to enter.
But there was more to it than that. There was a garden with herbs.
Gorgeous basil, eh? Or as Mr. B.T. said, “Nice pesto plant.”
Views of the Judean Hills and the back side of Jerusalem. Yad VaShem stands in the far distance, a somber reminder of how lucky we were to be making cider in the sunshine, in the Israel of today.
There were people hauling apple crates together, managing the crusher, lifting the bucket full of juice, and suddenly finding it easy to talk to each other. Here is our host and homebrewing master, Denny.
An unfamiliar voice called my name, and when I turned around, it was a Twitter friend who had recognized me from my avatar. He is of Lebanese extraction, and this interested the Baroness. In a second he and she were talking about Lebanese cuisine and swapping recipes.
It was also neat to get more homebrewing supplies at Denny’s shop downstairs. I brought home 10 liters of juice and six bottles of beer.
I’m happy to see interest in good beer expanding in Israel. The appearance of several serious local microbreweries is making a difference to folks who (like me) enjoy a glass of suds and would rather support an Israeli small business. But only Denny does things like the apple crush for cider. So far; I’m sure the idea will catch on.
Next thing is to convince him to crush pears for perry, which is pear cider. Or pear wine!
So what does the cider look like?…Well, when I brought the juice home, it looked like this:
It ain’t done yet. Takes about 2 months for the cider to drop all its sediment (bits of apple pulp, a layer of used-up yeast), become clear, and be ready to drink. I expect it’ll have between 7-8% alcohol by volume. When it’s ready, I’ll show you.
We bloggers moved on to lunch at a Kurdish eatery in Or Yehudah. It’s called “Hapundak shel Moshe,” a crowded, working-man’s place that’s famous for its kubeh soup. I’ve never been all that fond of kubeh, but that day, I had to change my mind. There was bulgur kubeh, semolina kubeh, kubeh fried and kubeh in soup. I had pumpkin soup with kubeh dumplings ladled over rice made yellow with turmeric. The owner also put a few inches of Kurdish kishkeh on top.
It was spicy and savory/sweet and filling and so nutritious, I looked 10 years younger when I got up from the table than when I’d sat down.
And here are just a few of the pots full of mighty Kurdish food.
The Baroness was writing up her own blog post about our cider and kubeh adventures just a little while ago. Make sure to skip over to her blog and see how the day looked to her.