essentially just me thinking I am funny

Sustainable living meets drinking to excess.

One of the few things that I haven't managed to kill in my garden of dead sticks are the apple trees, which despite all lack of care, have clung to life.

Because of this, last year we had a gazillion (it's an official term) apples. Other people might look at apples and think, ''Oh, jam!''. Or apple crumble, or stewed apples. But I look at most things think: ''Could that be booze?''.

As a result, I dutifully looked up Instructables, YouTube and several mental blogs on homesteading to find out the best way to make cider. Then started juicing. And juicing. Over the course of a month, apple juice was sprayed and dried on various surfaces and appliances in my kitchen, while bags of pulp accumulated. And because I have a pathological need not to waste anything, I then made (terrible) baked goods with the pulp. My 3-year-old cried when I put them in her lunchbox.

I sterilised and added yeast and watched the brew bubble, deliciously, in buckets in the house before storing bottles in the garage to transform itself into lovely, lovely cider. I would wander into the garage and look triumphantly at my wall of bottles and imagine the happy evenings I would spend opening fizzy amber deliciousness with food and friends.

''Ha!'' I told friends and family. ''You're never getting another bottle of wine from me. From now on every barbecue you have, I will be there with my awful cider and I will say things like 'I might just start with a wine' and drink all yours.''

Then, the wonderful day came: opening the first bottle. I cracked it open. Hmmm. No fizz. That's OK. Vodka doesn't fizz. I still like that. The smell was quite acerbic, in a burning-nostril-hair sort of way. But who cares, I can breathe through my mouth, still totally doable. Then the first taste. Even with, by now, ground-scrapingly lowered expectations, I was still upset at the result. Vinegar. I had made 100 bottles of vinegar.

With this cider disaster firmly in the front of my mind I picked this season's apples sullenly and put them in the garage in boxes alongside their bottled cousins. And that was when the lovely Jan came along and told us about her daughter-in-law, Maura, who makes (delicious) cider (not vinegar) every year.

A workshop was quickly organised.

We juiced together for two hours (Not 20. Alone. In a cold kitchen. Every night for weeks.) and chatted while people held other people's babies and Elke, Maura's friend, told us about how cider is traditionally made every year in Germany.

With 10 of us there cutting, washing, juicing and cleaning, we were finished in no time and sat down to try last season's cider. It was everything I had hoped for my vinegar; crisp, sparkling, golden moreishness.

The best part was Elke's onion cake, which she brought for everyone to share. This is apparently a German thing and is amazing. I ate it on the way home in the car and in a moment of weakness I licked the napkin it was wrapped in. Good times.


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