Old Fashioned Cider Mill A Treat to Visitors

October 12, 2009 Updated: October 12, 2009

Apples ready for grinding and pressing, producing a sweet, clear cider the old fashioned way. (NTDTV)
Apples ready for grinding and pressing, producing a sweet, clear cider the old fashioned way. (NTDTV)
NEW YORK—In Europe, cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermented apples, while in the United States and Canada, cider refers to plain apple juice from a mixture of several varieties of apples. Just outside of New York is an old fashioned cider mill that is well worth the trip. Fly Creek Cider Mill is 153 years old and does cider the traditional way.

Autumn is harvest time and the Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Gala, and Ginger Gold apples are all being transformed into pure apple cider. Three or more varieties are a good mix for the cider. "The more apples the richer the cider is going to be," said facility manager Jack Stanton. According to Owner Bill Michaels, the apple press is 120 years old and the mill is powered by a turbine water wheel.

"Our cider is made the traditional rag and cloth methods,” Michaels said. “We feel that it's a little bit slower pressed because of the time it takes to make it, therefore, we are not extruding the juice so fast that other things come through with it, we feel that our cider is a lot clearer, and it has a bit more of a clean taste, because it is so clear and pure."

"The earlier years the main reason for the cider mill was to press other people's apples,” said Stanton. “All the local farmers, town people, they all have a few apple trees, they would come and have their cider pressed."

Pressing the apples with a layering system using cloth produces a more refined cider than modern methods. (NTDTV)
Pressing the apples with a layering system using cloth produces a more refined cider than modern methods. (NTDTV)
First the apples are washed, then the grinding begins.

"We try to press at least three different varieties each day, most of the time as the season goes on, we can get six, seven different varieties, of apples in a day of pressing,” Stanton said.

The press is a layer of wood and rags, with eight buckets of ground apples going into eight stacks of rags. As the press grinds down, the clear liquid runs off, ready to bottle.

Besides the fresh juice, visitors come here for the fun and history of the place.

Harry Masters, a visitor to the mill, said, "The first thing I did was go to where they press the apples and make the cider, that's the great thing to see," he continued, “I was here a lot of years ago, but it wasn't as big, and I wasn't as old, but yeah this is a wonderful place to come."
Another visitor, Anne Marie, loved the cider. "I just tasted this and this was the best cider I've ever tried!”

Michaels said they get about 150,000 visitors annually.

Mill staff Claire Kepner thinks apples are super. "They are crisp, they are good for baking, they are great for eating, and they are just … [there's] something happy about them." The Fly Creek Cider Mill is minutes from Cooperstown. Michaels’ parents bought the mill in 1962, and he took over the place in 1999.

"We expanded the components of what we have to offer including our specialty food, a lot of pride of New York food, as well as our traditional cider and apples."

With additional files from NTDTV, a global media partner of The Epoch Times.

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