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Monday, November 19, 2018

An Apple A Day or a glass of Cider! Flat Aggie visits Berne NY

An Apple A Day or a glass of Cider!
October 2018
Hi Flat Aggie here!
It is Fall time in Upstate New York! It was a bit cool and I sure wish I had my jacket, instead
I had some hot apple cider and that did the trick to warming me up! I am visiting my friend
Sarah who lives in a small rural farming town of Berne, NY (about 20 minutes Southwest of
the Albany- the capital). Sarah grew up on her family’s apple orchard and she is a teacher
that has a passion for agriculture of which she incorporates when teaching her 5th graders
and FFA members.I learned so many interesting facts when visiting NY. Did you know that
the pilgrims planted the first apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony! Wow! The history
of apples in the United States stems from the Northeast Region! New York is ranked the  2nd
largest apple producing state in our Country. Can you guess which state is ranked #1 in
apple production?

While visiting New York I spent a day at a local Orchard, Indian Ladder Farms (see below).
It was a rainy, gloomy day so we went inside the old barns of the Farm Market. The minute
you walk in the door the smell of apples, cider, and cider donuts was overwhelmingly,
delicious smelling! There were about a dozen varieties of apples you could buy!


Also in the store they sell locally produced milk, organic eggs, cheeses, and meats!


I chose to purchase a half peck (about 8 apples for $11.50). It was expensive, but it was a new variety of apples called Snapdragon and I really wanted to try it. Cornell University’s apple breeding program (located in New York) spent 10 years perfecting this type of apple and it sure was crunchy and very juicy!


The wonderful part of purchasing fresh fruit from a local farmer is that you can even Pick your Own! There were many families there in the orchard picking their own apples, laughing, and enjoying time together. It is a tradition to go apple picking for a lot of families in this area.
Downstairs in another part of the 50 year old barn, is where you can watch the workers make fresh cider out of the apples they picked from the orchard behind their barns. Apple Cider is a natural juice made from pressed apples. It is naturally unsweetened and unfiltered- just pure sweet juice! Check out this video of how they make cider at Indian Ladder Farms!
Here I am ready to pick apples from these dwarf apple trees for cider and put them in these
large wooden crates. In order to make sweet tasting cider, farmers use many different
varieties of apples in each batch of cider they make. For example, they pick Cortlands,
MacIntosh, Red Delicious and Molly Reds, of which each apple has a different flavor, but
when juices are combined creates a delicious sweet cider! It takes about 36 medium sized
apples to make 1 gallon of cider! Good think I was here to help pick the apples!
The apples are then sent through a conveyor system where they are washed, and shredded
into smaller pieces in order to more easily extract the juices. In the background of this picture
you can see the UV Treatment machine. It is the law in New York State that in order to sell
fresh cider to the public for drinking purposes it has to be pasteurized first.
  • Pasteurization: After pressing, apple cider is heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for a few
seconds, which is sufficient to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. Pasteurized

cider is then immediately cooled to maintain the cider’s flavor and nutrients.
  • UV treatment: After pressing, apple cider is exposed to UV light, which kills any harmful bacteria that may be present. UV is a non-thermal process, so the cider is not heated in the process (www.nycider.com)


I watched the workers press the shredded apples and voila! Apple cider is made!




I was also invited to Sarah’s apple farm during my visit. Here is her brother (3rd generation) pressing cider for their family in their 1860’s barn. It was a much smaller production then Indian Ladder Farms and requires more handling of the apples and more family members to make this cider production happen, but they have been making cider for over 35 years!





After a long day of picking and eating apples and all that work making cider I was really hungry! Thankfully there is the Yellow Rock Bistro within the old farm at Indian Ladder and I had some fresh hot apple cider and a turkey apple sandwich made from their apples!

Back at the school where Sarah teaches, the FFA students organized a Big Apple Crunch Challenge for the elementary school that the FarmOn Foundation puts on every year. It is where people all over NY take a bite of a locally grown apple at 2:00 on October 25th in order to promote eating healthy and locally!

I assisted an FFA student in organizing apples to give to every class in our elementary school.


Here is the Big Crunch with 411 students Pre-K- 6th grade! If you look close you can see the apples in their hands! Can you find me in the “B”?


It was a fun time visiting upstate New York and learning about the process of apple cider making and how important small farms are to the economy of New York!