FLY CREEK, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – It’s starting to feel like fall outside – as the weather begins to cool down, pumpkins are put on display, and of course, apples are ready for picking. But for one local business, it’s all about turning those apples into fresh apple cider.
On Thursday, our reporter Shelby Pay had the opportunity to visit Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard for their first day of pressing for the fresh harvest season.
“We do about 20, 000 gallons annually, and this is our first pressing for the fresh harvest season,” explained Owner, Bill Michaels.
“All our cider is pressed right here on an 1889 water-powered, water hydraulic press, and this press was the second press that was here,” said Michaels, “We started out in 1856, and that was a mechanical press, and they’re both from the Boomer and Boschert Company in Syracuse, New York.”
For over 166 years, this family business has been pressing fresh apple cider by using a historic, water-powered mill right on the banks of Fly Creek.
Michaels explains the process…
“Once we let the water flow down and through the turbine, it spins a series of belts and line shafts, which delivers the energy upstairs to a pump, which then creates water pressure on the press,” he said.
“We press up to about 55 tons of pressure on the stack of apples, we grind 32 bushels, that makes about 100 gallons of cider (it’s about 3 gallons per bushel), and the process of that stacking in a wrapping cloth method is called ‘laying up a cheese.’”
“That ‘cheese’ is then pressed, it takes about 20 minutes to press out, and the cider goes through our ultraviolet light processing machine,” explained Michaels, “That machine shines the light of eight ultraviolet light bulbs through a very thin stream of cider, delivering the same end result as pasteurization, but it doesn’t add any heat to the product, so it has a really fresh pressed taste. And you can also home ferment our cider because it doesn’t damage any of the natural yeast.”
And anyone can visit! Fly Creek Cide Mill also shows their visitors every step of the cider-making process. Upstairs where the pressing area is, there are actually glass floors so you can see into the processing center where the apples are inspected, and then washed and prepped for cider pressing.
And good news – they’ll be pressing the cider through fall…
“To catch a good pressing day, that’s all on our calendar of events on our website at flycreekcidermill. com,” said Michaels.
“We greet about 150,000 visitors annually, and this is what we call our squeeze time because we’re going to be pressing apples right straight through to the end of November.”
“We are open until December 17th this year and reopening on Mother’s Day weekend.”