About Our Press
Cider’s been made our way — called the rack and cloth method — for hundreds of years. Visitors love to watch our 1920-vintage press in action. Here’s how it works:
We get in a whole bunch of apples (last year we used 7.5 million pounds), inspect ‘em and wash ‘em one last time. Then, up the elevator they go to a high-speed grinder where the apples become a mash called pomace, with all the parts — seeds, stems, skins, everything. A powerful screw pump pushes the pomace through a tube onto a heavy-duty cheesecloth on the press cart.
The cloth gets folded over, like a burrito, and we lay a rack on top. We repeat this 18 times, creating a sort of apple-mash wedding cake. Then a hydraulic piston applies 2,500 pounds-per-square inch of pressure. This squashes out every last precious drop of the apple nectar, leaving nothin’ but a dried-up, doormat-like leftover.
What happens to the squeeze-out pomace? Well, local farmers pick it up most of it for livestock feed. What they don’t take goes into a big compost pile. It’s full of nutrients for Vermont gardens — so every last bit of the cider-making process has a use.
As for our old press, we like it so much that in 2000 we bought a second old press, from a nice couple in Wisconsin who were getting out of the cider business. Not us! The demand for Cold Hollow Cider, with its vibrant taste of New England apples, just keeps growing.
Our Method: It’s All About the Apples
It takes great apples to make great apple cider — and we’ve got great apples, up our way. We blend about 80 percent Macintosh with Cortland, Empire, Delicious, Rome, Spartan, Niagra, and others from fine Champlain Valley orchards. There’s something about the soil and climate of this region that gives Macs, in particular, that “snap” that is the distinctive taste of Cold Hollow Cider.
We only use tree-picked, hand-selected fruit. It comes to us in 20-bushel (800 pound) bins — and in the autumn we can go through two tractor-trailer loads per day. We inspect them, bin by bin. Orchardists love to sell to us, because we buy year-round. But they know they’ve got to meet our standards, or the apples go back.
To learn how our rack and cloth presses work, see the next section of the dropdown menu called "About our Press". Each of our two presses can produce up to 500 gallons per hour — the “fruit” of 5,000 pounds of chopped-up apples.
To make absolutely sure it’s safe to enjoy, we next put our cider through a “flash” pasteurization. We heat it very rapidly to 172 degrees, then quickly cool it back to 36 degrees. This pasteurizes our cider without affecting the taste.
We pump the finished cider into one of several refrigerated bulk tanks. We’ve got tanks that range in size from 800 gallons to a 10,000-gallon silo! The cold, fresh cider next goes into our bottling plant — then we put it on our shelves, and ship it straight to the stores and our customers