Its official we have our state and federal licenses and are now licensed cider makers!!! We are super excited to start making cider commercially.
Oh! It’s on! Or better to say, it’s juice! Noble Cider is officially producing cider – the sweet kind for now. In 12 hours on Sunday and another 5 on Monday, we pressed our first 80 bushels of apples. That’s about 250 gallons of juice! Not too bad for our first major pressing!
It was exhausting work, but really fun and satisfying work. After years of office life and long project life-cycles, there’s something to be said about instant results from hard work. You grind the apples, you press the apples, and voilà – apple cider! We at Noble are so proud to be creating a quality product made from local, in-season apples. Staymen Winesap, Mutsu, and Blushing Gold all from Sky Top Orchard, in Flat Rock, NC will make this first batch perfect! (Thanks David and crew!)
Our current process is hands on from beginning to end. It goes the fastest with the full Noble Foursome: two of us hand selecting, pruning, and washing apples; while the other two are grinding apples, stacking the press, and pressing the apple mash. The bin first took about 4 hours to complete, as we were creating our system along the way. Now we’ve got it down to about 3 hours.
Our juice is in deep freeze now, soon to be joined by other Noble juice containers, as we wait to receive our winery permits….
250 gallons down and just 1750 more to go!
Go team Noble, Go!
Today we pressed our first apples in our new facility. It was a small pressing of a bushel of apples but it gave us a chance to test out our newly purchased and build equipment. I’m very happy to say everything worked really well. It was just enough to give us 2 ½ gallons. The half-gallon we drank (yum) and the rest will be test batches.
In the UK and Europe there are quite a few cider press makers. Unfortunately in the US there are not many options for mid-priced rack and cloth presses so we decided to build our own. It is based on a 20 ton arbor press and has room for 2 press trays. So while one stack of cheeses is being pressed the next stack can be constructed. The design is inspired by a press built by Reverend Nat of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, who was kind enough to give us some pointers based on his experience.
Our apple grinder has arrived and is an impressive piece of machinery. We did a fair amount of research before ordering and ended up buying an Italian made Zambelli MuliMAX. It’s rated for 3000-4000 pounds per hour so it should be plenty for our first few years. http://www.zambellienotech.it/eng/altri_mulimix.htm
Apples, apples, everywhere! I don’t know if I’m just noticing apples more because I’m paying attention, but it seems as if there are apple stories everywhere. Here are two of my (Joanna) recent favorites:
NPR: Not the most positive story for a budding hard cider company to hear, NPR recently did a story on Michigan state’s short supply of apples. It does end on a positive note. (And makes us thankful that we are finding apples in NC for our cider!)
Martha Stewart Living: There’s a great apple story in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living about Super Chilly Farm in Palermo, Maine. The photographic story highlights how pomologist (that’s an apple scientist) John Bunker is cultivating more than 200 varieties of heirloom apples, some of which are derived from varieties that are over 200 years old. Super Chilly Farm is in its third year of an apple CSA. How cool! Noble Cider is planning a field trip…
What apple stories have you seen lately? Please share with us here or email me joanna (at) noblecider (dot) com.
Lief and I cut down our HDPE sheets to make the press plates that go between the ‘cheese’ layers. We decided to cut grooves in both directions to allow juice to flow easier, as well as adding texture for the cloth to grip. Apples coming next week! Let the games begin. . .
We’ve been having fun making gallon batches of cider. The Rhode Island Greening is pretty awesome–too bad there aren’t enough around here. I just picked up some Cortland and Jonathon to make another tasty blend, which are varieties that we can get in quantity here in NC. Thanks to Sky Top Orchard of Flat Rock, NC! Cheers to a long-term and fruitful relationship!
And long live Noble Cider!!! Well, I pushed ‘send’ on our Winery permit for the Feds. Bond payment will be in the mail right behind it. Good lord, what have we done. . . . .
I feel like we need to christen the occasion by smashing a bottle of cider across the bow of our apple press—the proverbial ‘smack-on-the-butt’ to ease this thing out into deeper water. Let’s steer this puppy out of the port already. Three sheets to the wind!
Now we wait. And then wait some more.