Our apple cider consists entirely of the juice of fresh-picked and carefully washed Door Creek apples. During the season from early September to early November we blend the flavors of different varieties to give you a full bodied, rich sample of fresh apple cider. The usual trend is to move from a tart light blend at the season's beginning to a rich, sweet, full bodied blend at the season's end. Combining the characteristics of many unique varieties has helped to make our cider special.
We add nothing to our juice, including preservatives, so it must be kept refrigerated and consumed within approximately two weeks from the date of purchase or it will ferment.
Because of the recent concern regarding the bacteria E. Coli in unpasteurized juice, we have added a sanitizing step in our apple washing preparation. Further, drops (windfalls) are never used in our cider making.
For people with compromised immune systems or for very young children we recommend heating our cider to at least 160 degrees for 16 seconds or more before consumption. Presently, the risk of E. coli related illness from the consumption of properly pressed unpasteurized cider is extremely low. Those who want no risk should buy pasteurized juice or follow the heating instructions detailed above.
We apologize for the times when we run out of cider, but as we are a small orchard, it is sometimes hard to keep up with demand.
UPDATED AND EXPANDED OCTOBER, 2017:
Recently we’ve had some concerns about the availability and cost of our cider.
Let’s talk about why we sometimes run out first. We really do strive to keep it in stock, however we have a finite number of apples each week and our set up can only handle a certain amount of cider at a time. Our maximum pressing is around 330 gallons a week. And when it is gone, it is gone for the week. We just don’t have enough apples and aren’t physically or mechanically able to do pressing multiple days a week.
And why is it more expensive than what you buy at the supermarket? Let’s take you through a week in fresh cider at our orchard in the fall:
First and foremost, all of our apples need to be picked off our trees. We cannot and do not use windfalls/drops/grounders for cider. Once the apples are picked, they need to be graded. This we do by hand. We wear gloves to help prevent bruising, and we look at each apple as we pick it out of the field crate from the orchard. The #1 apples get sold in the shop as fresh fruit. The #2 apples, with few exceptions, are set aside for cider.
These two steps go on all day, everyday during the season.
On Tuesday, Tom takes a look at what varieties we have available that week for cider. He makes a list of the varieties and quantities of each he would like to include in that week’s pressing to make the flavor and body the best it can be. We usually have just enough apples for a good blend each week. Generally those apples are pulled out of one of our walk-in coolers (where all our picked apples reside) and left overnight to increase their sugars a bit more.
On Wednesday, our wonderful staff member, Val, gives all the cider apples a bath in a mild bleach&water solution. He also mixes the varieties together so our pressing is blended at the start. Those apples are again left out of the coolers overnight to increase sugars.
Thursday morning Tom starts pressing around 3:30am. Val arrives at around 8am to start hand tapping jugs of cider out of our holding tank. This helps us be able to press our maximum amount – our tank only holds about 240 gallons so we only get to 330 with Val tapping as we go. This continues until Tom is out of apples, usually about 2pm. He then takes several hours to clean and sanitize the press and pressing area. Next, the dry apple pomace that is left over after pressing out juice is taken out in our old manure spreader pulled by a tractor and used as compost.
Val and the rest of our staff continue to hand tap gallons and half gallons out of our holding tank (and to stock them in the front cooler for sale) until we run out.
And that’s it! As you can see, it is quite the process. We take great pride in our cider.
Thanks for reading. We hope to see you out at the orchard soon.
Home Hard Cider Brewing
Hard apple cider is a delicious fermented drink and its popularity is on the rise. Home brewers especially have embraced this new trend, and many have come to us seeking fresh cider and specialty apples for use in their recipes.
The good news is that we DO grow some of these hard cider varieties. Some are only used for cider (bitter-sharp and bitter-sweet), and some can be both eaten or juiced.
In the bitter-sharp (high tannin/high acid) category we have:
- Kingston Black (not yet producing)
Sharps (low tannin/high acid) that can be eaten fresh or juiced:
- Ashmead's Kernel
- Belle de Boskoop
- Calville Blanc D'Hiver
- Cox's Orange Pippin
- Esopus Spitzenburg
- Northern Spy
- Ribston Pippin
- Sops of Wine
Sweets (low tannin/low acid) that can be eaten fresh or juiced:
- Golden Russet
- Roxbury Russet
The bad news is we have very small quantities of these apples available (and some might not be available every year). Thusly, they are generally sold at full retail price. We use the "seconds" of these varieties to help make our fresh cider spectacular.
Additionally, home brewers can buy our excellent blended variety fresh cider throughout the season. Many people have found great success brewing with it at home - and you don't have to press any apples. However, we do not offer volume discounts for home brewers; because we do small weekly pressings and because it is hugely popular, our fresh cider usually sells out at full price.