Orchard Update: Early Winter 2022
It’s been far too long since our last update! Harvest came and went, and before we could celebrate, it was time to get started turning those apples into precious juice and begin fermentations. I think what stands out most from this harvest was actually how smooth it went due in part to having a big enough picking crew and getting started earlier than usual since the growing conditions were so good. Picking went so well that the crew took a few days off from picking to replant some rows of trees that had to be removed the prior year because of a disease called Fire Blight (more on this devil another time!).
Once the harvest was complete and our storage chalk full of hundreds of bins of apples, we started pressing right away. It’s our goal at City Orchard to get all of our apples pressed and fermented before the end of winter. We believe that while apples benefit from a little time in storage, the quality deteriorates from too much time. Yes, it would be a lot easier to use concentrates with indefinite shelf lives, but that’s just not what we do! Real apples, real cider!
We use a belt style press manufactured by Kreuzmayr in Austria. A bin of apples gets loaded into the tipper with our forklift, and then dumped into an agitated bath of water to rinse the apples. Then, up the elevator and into the grinder. The fresh milled apples then fall into the press hopper where they get squeezed between the belt and several rollers. The juice is collected in a basin and pumped into a series of 275 gallons totes that then get shipped via 18 wheeler to our location in Houston. The spent pomace is collected at the back of the press and hauled away.
The crew planting trees by hand. Once the trellis was erected from the original planting, it’s impossible to use the typical planting equipment.