Not All Apples Are Created Equal
Once we're ready to go, we bring the apples out of the cooler. They need to be good apples.
After apples have been picked, they need to be cooled down right away. Then you go through your apples and grade them. Number ones are perfect—the apples that you put in your store to sell. You can also sell seconds, but those typically have a few blemishes on them, a couple of bruises or stem punctures. Then you also have what we'd call "pressers." There are different grades of pressers.
I like to run seconds through for making my apple cider. The better the apples you can put into your cider, the better your apple cider tastes. So, that's one of the most important things that we strive to do—run good apples through.
I take pride here at Honey Hill in making our cider onsite because I can control the input and the output. I control which apples I'm pressing to try to get the taste that I'm looking for. Apples are not always just tart—some are sweet—and I try to get a nice blend. In the 2021 season, my cider has been on the sweeter side, just due to the growing season here. Even my tart apples have got a nice sweetness to them.
Most of the apples I press are dessert apples. If you get into hard cider production, you're using apples that are considered "spitters," things that you wouldn't really want in a fresh cider. Our cider is mostly dessert apples, sweet eating apples.
Washing and Pressing
We start by running the apples through our conveyor system. They run through the washing plant, which uses brushes and water. After they've been cleaned, they go up the conveyor into the grinding machine that pulverizes the apples and stems and any leaves. Then it goes into a big hopper.