The Cider Tradition Continues
Sep 09, 2015 05:37PM
● By Erica Shames
After 35 years of making cider for friends and family, Colonel Ricketts Hard Cider - Benton, PA was created to share the delicious product with everyone.
In 2006 Bob bought a press and began making our own sweet cider. Now we direct every step of the cider-making process, from selecting the apples through bottling. The only thing we don't do is grow the apples.
We buy our apples from orchards here in Columbia and neighboring counties. We add only sugar, yeast and salicylic acid. These ingredients allow us to produce pure, very smooth hard ciders. We do not add raisins, fruit concentrates, sulfite compounds or other preservatives.
Each year we produce new flavors, depending on the types of apples available and growing conditions. Although we usually mix varieties, we sometimes produce distinctive single-apple ciders, such as Delicious Red and Fuji Fanatic.
Our pressing is done at our Press & Barrel location in Benton. Press & Barrel location retail hours run from November 1 through April 1. We usually start pressing weekly in October. You can come by and see the pressing in progress, if you call ahead to find out when, since our retail hours are held at our Green Acres Barn tasting room. We also have unpasteurized fresh cider during pressing season.
THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
We buy our apples— Macintosh, Stayman, Fuji, Cortland, Gala, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious—from orchards in Columbia and neighboring counties. Mixing varieties in differing amounts we produce ciders with distinctive qualities and flavor.
Sort, Wash and Grind
Prior to pressing we sort out apples with bad spots, reserving the best apples for cider.
Next, the apples pass through the brush washer, up the conveyor and into the grinder, where they are ground into an applesauce-like mixture.
Filling the Press
On the press we fill a rack of trays 7 layers deep with the applesauce- like mixture. Each layer is wrapped in a special pressure-resistant cloth that allows just the apple cider juices to escape during pressing.
Pressing takes about 15 minutes at 2,300 psi. During this time, virtually all juice is squeezed from the pomage. As the juice flows out of the trays, it drains into a reservoir and then is pumped directly into barrels for aging.
Each pomage layer weighs about 2.5 pound after pressing. We save these leftovers for local farmers to feed to their pigs.
The juice is pumped directly from the presses reservoirs into barrels. Most of our ciders work in the barrel for about a year. Then they are ready for bottling and for you to enjoy!!
Enjoy the pictures in the gallery above that show the processes in action! Check us out at ColonelRicketts.com and Face Book! Also come visit us in person, at Green Acres Barn, in Benton, so you can taste our delicious and unique product. Call us for more information and directions: (570) 854-1948.