It sure is cozy this time of year. The warmth of a steaming mug of cider in your hands is something that will cap a crisp autumn evening. The bounty of apples during the fall season makes it easy to experiment with a variety of cider techniques at home by using the excess fruit from your backyard apple trees after you just can’t bake anymore pies or crisps.
According to Thompson Creek Organics, a small, family-owned apple orchard and cider house in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, the difference between cider and apple juice is that cider is “the fresh, slightly pulpy, you-can’t-see-through-it, straight from the orchard juice,” while apple juice “comes in a little box with a straw.”They handpick their seven acres of 10 varieties of apples and run them through the press about once a week during the autumn months, selling the cider to local stores and restaurants. It is pasteurized using an ultraviolet light process, which exposes thin layers of cider to ultraviolet light as it runs through the machine. The result of this technology achieves the same effect as heat pasteurization but allows the cider to stay at a cool temperature and remain raw, which preserves all the natural delicate enzymes and unmistakable flavors found in the fruit.After one taste of the cider these guys produce, you’re sure to agree! Their cider tastes just how cider should, with an extremely fresh, unmasked, pure flavor—in short, it tastes just like a deliciously crisp, perfectly ripe apple!
After buying the already-certified organic orchard about nine years ago, Blair Smith, his wife Marcey, mother-in-law Patty, and their then-partner Angelina quickly learned as much as they could about organic apple production. They then added a few more varieties by way of planting and grafting and installed a complete on-site juicing facility. Their hard work has definitely paid off, as their apples and cider are known all over Southern Oregon for their outstanding quality, while the family is recognized for their dedication to producing an all-around environmentally friendly, locally made and delivered product.
If you want to bring home a bushel of apples and try making cider at home, a cider press is your best bet. If you don’t have a press, there are many other methods that people use to get the pulp, including meat grinders, food processors, blenders, or just simply chopping them by hand. All these methods work efficiently if you have just a small batch of apples to process. Once you have made the pulp, strain the fruit through cheesecloth until all the juice has been extracted. Of course, you can always use a juicer too, but some might say that’s cheating! For long-term storage, keep it in the freezer.
Of course, you can always choose to buy pre-made cider from your local orchard of grower’s market instead. We hear Thompson Creek Organics makes a few good ones!
Not sure what to do with all those apples or that jug o’ cider? Thompson Creek was good enough to share a few recipes with readers of The Local Dish: