What's wholesome, natural, and delicious? Kimmel's Apple Cider! Apple cider is both delicious and nutritious with only one ingredient, apples. Since we are in the midst of apple season, fresh apple cider is being processed at Kimmel. Our cider is made from start to finish directly in the Apple Barn. A bountiful apple season can produce around 35,000 to 40,000 gallons of apple cider. There are many steps involved in processing apple cider before it reaches our store's shelves. Continue reading to learn more about apple cider processing and what it takes to produce a gallon of cider.
1. Bin Dumper - Grade 3 apples are sorted into a bin via our Durand Wayland Apple Sorting Machine. Did you know it's the only one of its kind in the state of Nebraska? The grade 3 apples are just as tasty as the grades 1 and 2 but have more blemishes and bruising make them perfect for cider. Around 20-30% of the apples grown at Kimmel are made into cider. Usually, 5-6 different apple varieties are mixed in each batch. The bin is dumped onto the conveyor to be transported to the washer.
2. Washer - Just as you might guess, the apples are washed with a chlorine and water rinse. Chlorine is used to help remove any microbes that may be present on the apples' surface to make the fruit safe for processing.
3. Elevator - What do elevators do? Move things! The elevator moves the apples to the grinder for the next step to occur.
4. Grinder - Once the apples reach the grinder, they are ground into apple mush otherwise known as pomace.
5. Cider Press - The pomace produced from the grinder is then pressed to squeeze all the juice from the mush. This juice is what the cider is made up of!
6. Conveyor - After all the juice is squeezed out, a conveyor takes the pomace out of the processing room through a window and is dumped into a wagon. At Kimmel, we like to use this pomace for fertilizer, as it is high in nutrients that benefit the growth and development of our fruit trees. It can also be used in animal feed. There is no waste in the production of apple cider!
7. Rotating Screen - As an extra precaution, a rotating screen is used to remove any pomace that may have escaped the press.
8. Holding Tank - The apple cider is collected into a holding tank to further undergo filtering to ensure only cider makes it into the gallon.
9. Filtering System - Filtering the cider removes any apple particles that may make the apple cider appear cloudy. This step helps ensure a smooth apple cider.
10. Holding Tank #2 - This holding tank stores the filtered cider before it undergoes pasteurization.
11. Ultraviolet Pasteurization Unit - Cider is moved through the pasteurization unit in clear tubes passing 12 ultraviolet lights. Only a few seconds of ultraviolet light is required to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present in the apple cider. Our system can pasteurize 300 gallons of cider per hour! Without pasteurization, the cider can contain harmful bacteria that cause food-borne illness if consumed. This is one of the most important steps.
12. Bottling Unit - The cider is almost complete! After pasteurization, the cider is transported to the bottling room where the bottling unit fills gallon, half-gallon, and sports bottles with cider. In one gallon of cider, there are 36 apples! Then, the caps are attached, and the bottles proceed to the last step.
13. Labeling Machine - Our labels are automatically placed on the bottles via the machine. The finished bottles are either taken to the refrigerator or placed in the freezer for later use. Freezing cider allows us to have cider in stock all year round!
As you can see, there are many steps in apple cider processing! Apples are one of our favorite fruit seasons, and we take pride in our apple cider. Stop by the Apple Barn to enjoy some fresh cider. If you haven't tried it, you haven't lived! You know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and no one said that apple can't come from cider!
Alyssa Rosenbaum - Education and Food Safety Intern