The good news is that I have loosened the grip of my canning obsession. I have done this, of course, by finding a replacement obsession.
Yes, I realize that this is nixing the urge to bite my nails by taking up cigarettes, thank you.
The bad news is that I don't know that I could have found a hobby that is less photogenic, at least in its early stages.
Plastic buckets of mud-brown liquid aren't exactly the recipe to keep page-views rolling in by the dozens.
At any rate, think about jam. How much jam would I normally consume in the course of a year, were it not for the warren of jars crammed into my pantry? The answer is next to none. Of course, when the jam is not just jam -- when it's a story and a memory and a place -- that's different. But I can count on one hand the number of times I've purchased jam at the supermarket. And there is a limit to how much jam I can consume.
Now consider hard cider. If having limitless access to fruit to turn into jam is appealing, think about how much more appealing limitless access to juice to turn into booze would be -- or, I should say is.
Why it took me this long to make hard cider is beyond me.
Before we get into this, I want to make clear what I hope to prove with this project: Any idiot can do this. Because, really, I'm nothing if not any idiot.
Once you read this article by Nathan Poell on making hard cider, you will know exactly as much as I do. On the third page of the article, there's a list of supplies needed. I will be upfront: You probably don't have some of these things on hand. You will probably need to purchase a food-grade plastic bucket or two, a bit of plastic tubing, an airlock and some yeast. All of this -- except the yeast -- is a one-time expense and can be reused. The yeast is a consumable, but costs less than a dollar. When the time comes, you'll need some bottles, too.
If you don't have a local homebrew supply store, check out Midwest Homebrewing Supplies, a company with which I have no affiliation other than being a satisfied customer.
Oh. You will also need to buy some cider.
One last thing:
I got an email the other day (regarding the availability of pawpaws) from a reader who said: "I am so tempted to take up canning after reading you ..."
I'm sorry: So tempted?
(The interlocutor in question also addressed me as "O, wise slinger of fruit," which, strictly speaking, is not necessary to draw an email reply out of me, although you can see where it wouldn't hurt.)
I mention all this because I have visions of organizing a bottle exchange -- or at the very least a tasting.
This is a bit ambitious, I'll admit.
And I don't know if it would work.
But it only could work if you join me in making some hard cider.