Harvesting the Fruit, Picking, Sorting & Washing
Traditionally, cider apples were ready for picking when 50% of the crop had fallen to the orchard floor. Today, we test the sugar, tannins and acid levels of the apples to determine when they are ready to harvest.
The apples are picked using traditional methods for cider apples. The trees are shaken and the ripe fruit is picked from the soft orchard floor. The English have designed machines for this, but they are no more efficient than a trained work crew with strong arms! The apples are put into wooden bins, which hold about 800 pounds each, and then transported by tractor to the storage area. Some of the fruit is stored in a cool dry place for up to a week to allow the fruit to ‘sweat’. While the fruit sweats, the remaining starch is converted to sugar.
Our pressing process usually starts in early October. At first light, we begin by filling the wash tank with a mild cleaning solution, to remove any residual dirt the apples may have picked up from the orchard floor. Here, we also sort the apples for any signs of rot. Only firm, sound apples are used for our cider. The clean apples are then carried by conveyor to the grinder or ‘mill’ where they will be milled and then pressed into juice.
Read more about Pressing.