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 cheesecloth is a heavy close-knit nylon material which acts as the primary filter to hold back pomace during the pressing process.
The cloth gets folded over, like a burrito, and we lay a rack on top. The rack, made of oak, is used between each layer and is designed so that the cider will flow easily from the center of the batch to the edge. We repeat this 18 times, creating a sort of apple-mash wedding cake with each layer containing roughly 5 bushels of apples. Each batch ends of containing about 70 bushels of apples
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. The yield per pressing is about 230 gallons of fresh Apple Cider. With one operator the output is 300 gallons per hour. With two operators, the output is 500 gallons per hour.
What happens to the squeezed-out pomace? Well, local farmers pick 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 McIntosh 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's 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.