Island Updates

Under Pressure: Hurricane Island Cider Pressing with Ocean Passages

Guest blog post by Science Educator Isabelle Holt

  Students reach to gather apples along what used to be the main street of the Hurricane Island quarry town.

Students reach to gather apples along what used to be the main street of the Hurricane Island quarry town.

We had Ocean Passages’ gap year students out on Hurricane for the weekend. This is the beginning of a semester-long adventure for these six students, during which they will be sailing down the East Coast to Cuba. Before setting off on the Harvey Gamage,  the Ocean Passages students got a taste of what living in a small, intentional, community feels like through their time on Hurricane.

Fall has arrived on Hurricane Island, with its thick fogs, and longer, colder nights. With the fall comes a time honored, New England tradition: apple cider pressing. We frequently incorporate foraging for edible plants on the island into our programming. As fall has brought a scarcity of wild edibles we have turned our attention to the ripening apples on the trees that are most likely descendants of those left behind by the quarrymen when they left the island more than 100 years ago.

  Students operate the cider press!

Students operate the cider press!

We gathered two milk crates worth of apples from the trees along Main Street to press in our very own Sam Hallowell's antique cider press. A cider press is the perfect example of how a complex system can be made by combining a few simple mechanical parts. The apples were fed one-by-one into the fruit grinder, an example of a wheel and axle, until the barrel below was full. The pomace (the ground apples) were then moved to the actual press portion of the apparatus, which is functionally just a giant screw that places pressure on the apples themselves, where the Ocean Passages students cranked with gusto. As pressure was applied via the screw mechanism, the inclined plane of the bottom of the press allowed the freshly squeezed juice to flow through a filter and into our pitchers. 

Not only was this a lesson in simple machinery, this was the first time most of the students had made their own apple cider and the fruits of their labors were enjoyed by the whole Hurricane community. 

  Taking a breather during an island perimeter hike to commune with the granite and take in the views.

Taking a breather during an island perimeter hike to commune with the granite and take in the views.

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