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Considerations for Operating a Commercial, Non-HACCP Cider Mill in Vermont

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions at Lost Meadow Cidery:
 
How long are you open?
For the 2012 season the cider mill is closed. As in, not opening at all.
 
What's the difference between sweet cider and fermenting stock?
Sweet cider is the fresh juice you buy in a one-gallon jug and serve to your kids. It's made from an ever-changing blend of dessert fruit selected for a balanced, quality product.
Fermenting stock is cider destined for yeast fermentation. I blend it, you make it alcoholic (hard). We get the best of both worlds, you get a top-shelf, crafted cider for a low cost, I don't have to mess with state and federal licensing to sell an alcoholic product. These special blends sell out every year, call or email me to reserve yours.


How long have you been doing this?
Cider, 15 or so years, more if you go back to when I was a kid. Here in this garage, since 2005, opened for 'business' in 2006.
 
Do you make any money at this?
Hell no. It's a hobby I would be doing anyway, so I figured I'd set it up right and offer the goods to the public since this kind of cider is hard to find.
 
Where do you get your apples?
Apples come from many sources. All sweet cider apples are purchased from commercial Champlain Valley orchards. Our primary source grows over 40 varieties which contribute to the unique and changing blends we produce throughout the year. All sweet jug cider apples are tree-picked, whole, sound fruit.
Fermenter's fruit comes from our own orchard, local feral trees, and regional orchards that specialize in superior cider fruit. We go to great lengths to source the best fruit for (hard) cidermaking, and feel that our product shows it.
 
Do you use drops?
Never for the sweet cider. Some fruit for fermenting blends are windfalls or intentionally shaken at harvest, with strict mill sanitation between the two types of fruit.
 
Will you squeeze my apples?
No, I have enough trouble fitting my fruit into the schedule without messing with squeezing other's fruit. I've also seen enough contaminated fruit come down the driveway that I'll not take any chances, thank you.
 
Do you have an orchard?
A little one. No, you can't pick any apples there.

  
Are the apples organic?
Some are. Some apples come from certified organic or transition orchards, some from unsprayed wild trees. 'Conventional' apples come from orchards that use advanced Integrated Pest Management practices to reduce chemical inputs to a minimal level. In fact, I manage the farm that produces the majority of our fruit, and feel confident about all of the apple products from it.
 
Is your cider pasteurized?
No, we do not pasteurize our cider. Because we are a retail operation, we are not bound by 21 CFR sec 101, the FDA Juice rules that require pasteurization and HACCP implementation. We do take food safety very seriously, and operate a strict food safety program to ensure that our product is safe and healthy.
 
What's with this food safety business? I've drank unpasteurized cider all my life.
Cider made from bad fruit under unsanitary conditions really can carry some nasty stuff. The 'bad bugs' have recently evolved to survive and multiply in the acidic juice environment and really aren't to be messed with. That's why we run a clean ship and use good fruit.
 
But doesn't cider give you the shits?
Apples are very high in fiber, and a glass of cider is loaded with it. In this soluble form, it will have a cleansing effect- all things in moderation, until you're used to it.
 
 
Do you make hard cider?
Yes, as a hobby. NO I DON'T SELL IT.
 
How much for your hard cider?
NOT FOR SALE. I'll help you make your own, though.
 
What's fermenting stock?
Fermenting stock ('Cidre') is made from specific juice blends intended for making hard cider. These blends are selected to provide a juice with balanced sugar, acid, tannin, and flavor profile suitable for making a quality finished cider. Varieties used change with the season and consist of a base, usually a blend of Liberty, Cortland, Gala, or Golden (Delicious and Russet) and a bittersweet/sharp component such as Foxwhelp, Ellis Bitter, Yarlington Mill, Chisel Jersey, Dabinett, and some local crabapples. Blended cidre juice is filled into the customer's container only. Carboys and other supplies can be had from Local Potion in Plainfield, VT and Vermont Homebrew Supply in Winooski, VT. For a basic cider customers only need a clean, sanitized fermenter and airlock.
 
How do I make hard cider?
Easy. Get me a carboy, airlock, and stopper, pick up a pack of wine yeast while you're at it. Get on my cidre reservation list, I'll send you home with all you need, including directions.
 
Do you add yeast to your cider?
Didn't used to, but the mill is kept so clean I have a hard time keeping a wild ferment going these days. I use a basic white wine yeast like Premier Cuvee or Cotes des Blancs.
 
Do you add sugar to your cider?
I don't, you can.
 
 
 
Enough about cider. Does this road go any farther?
Yes, it comes back out in East Montpelier like a big jughandle.
 
Can I drive it?
If you have to ask, no. I'm not buying you a new exhaust system.
 
Interested in bartering?
I'm always looking for syrup, meat, and other goodies. Let's talk.
 

 

 

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All material Copyright Terence Bradshaw 2006-2013

terryb at lostmeadowvt dot com