We planted the new orchard in 2012, selecting many varieties of apples, an experiment in taste,
texture, disease resistance and preservation. (Read about it here if you're interested.)
It takes a couple of years for fruit trees to get established and, as always, you're at the mercy of the weather, especially in this part of the planet, where wild swings in temperature and precipitation have become the norm, but that's a story for another post!
This year, we held our breath as the trees began to blossom and still the frost did not come. We watched with great delight as the little apples began to form. This was going to be the year of the apple ... and so it was!
The apples ripened over a time span of a couple of months, allowing us time to pick and market the bounty.
It was becoming obvious that this would be the year we embarked on a long-time dream to share the our apple cider with the public. For many years, we have used a small Garden Way cider press and made cider for ourselves and friends. It's a method too labor-intensive and inefficient for production.
After researching the latest cider regulations for Pennsylvania and checking in with our organic certifier (Pennsylvania Certified Organic or PCO), producing cider to sell became the goal.
Inspection of our cooler by the Department of Agriculture brought our Food Establishment registration. We located a cider mill in nearby New York state which would process our cider first thing in the morning so no chance of apples other than our certified organic varieties would find their way into our blend. PCO approved language for our labels.
And so, on a chilly October morning, baskets of apples were loaded onto the pickup truck and a couple of hours later, those baskets returned filled with gallons and half gallons of liquid gold.
(to be continued ...)