Sep. 15—A harbinger of fall appeared on Thursday as the Fly Creek Cider Mill's cider press returned to action.
The mill's Boomer and Boschert press was in operation Sept. 15, continuing an autumn tradition in the hamlet of Fly Creek.
In addition to the continuation of the tradition, Fly Creek also introduced a new tasting room where visitors can taste products from the Farm Winery. Vistors can buy flights — samples of beverages — to enjoy while watching the cider-making process. Hard ciders, apple and grape wines, craft beers and distilled spirits are available according to Bill Michaels, co-owner of the mill.
Known for its historically authentic machinery, the mill makes its cider in the traditional rack-and-cloth method using the power of water from the mill pond fed by Fly Creek, he said.
Visitors can witness the entire process in the cider gallery and learning center overlooking the original equipment while operators demonstrate the cider-making technique and explain the process, Michaels said.
Thursday, operators were using the wrapping cloth method to press zestar, gala and golden supreme apples.
To make fresh and sweet cider, the mill uses only handpicked New York state apples and fallen or inferior apples are rejected from the process, according to information provided to The Daily Star from Fly Creek Cider Mill.
Apples are then held in cold storage until being processed and the mill always blends at least three varieties, ranging from sweet to tart to create a distinct flavor.
Apples are washed, cleaned and scrubbed before grinding and are dumped into a hopper, then inspected on a conveyer belt, the information said.
Washed apples are then ground and turned into a pomace. The press then transforms the pomace into fresh cider. The pomace is pumped into a nylon cloth and a plastic rack assembly known as a "cheese."
Once the process is complete, a pressing tray is turned, placing it under the 1889 Boomer and Boschert Press. The pump will reach 60 tons of pressure on the stack, producing almost 100 gallons of cider from 34 bushels. Spent pomace is removed for animal feed and fertilizer, according to the information provided.
"We utilize 50 tons of water pressure to press the apples and around 100 gallons of cider is made throughout the day. We make a total of 20,000 gallons during the season and in November we make an extra 5,000 gallons," Michaels said.
Before being bottled, the cider passes through an ultraviolent light processing machine known as a Cidersure. The FDA-approved process delivers the same result as pasteurization without the addition of heat, retaining a freshly pressed taste, the information said.
Additionally, this year's apple crop is "robust and freshly picked," Michaels said. McIntosh, gala, ginger gold, golden delicious, Paula reds and zestar are the apples available to bag in the temperature-controlled, pack-your-own apple display room.
"Fall is our special time of year when the mill comes to life creating our delicious, sweet cider. Seeing the press in action is truly amazing to watch, Michaels said. "We painstakingly maintain and preserve the mill so that returning generations can share in the fascination of our traditional process."
Alexis Ochi, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7213.