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Making Fresh Cider on the Farm
The trees of Carlinville's Broom Orchard produce apples that are headed for two places: the shelf, or the inside of a jug.
"We bring the big apples in, and bag them, and sell them," Jeff Broom said. "The smaller apples that fall through, mainly, are the ones we make cider out of."
Those little guys come out of the cooler in 20-bushel bins that Broom hauls back to the cider area to begin the process.
"They run up the elevator, fall through a flail grinder," Broom said. "Peeling, seeds, apple, juice, everything, it goes through into the hopper."
The ground-up mixture that's left is pumped into the next room, where it's used to fill large cloths that are placed on top of each other in racks.
"We press it at 2,000 pounds of pressure," Broom said. "All the juice runs out through the cloth as a filter."
Once every last bit of juice runs out of those cloths, what's left is kind of a pulp mat, made of seeds, stems, and every other part of the apple. That stuff heads back out to the orchard.
"We put what's called the pumice into a spreader, and we take it out into the orchard and spread it out," Broom said. "There isn't really any nutritional value, it's just organic matter."
But all that cider still has a few more steps.
"We run it through a pasteurizer," Broom said. "We run it through at about 165 degrees, for about 6 to 8 seconds. It's called flash pasteurization, which eliminates any pathogens or anything that may be in the cider. During the course of a day we can make up to 800 gallons."
In a full season, they can hit closer to 8,000 gallons, which they sell in their store to their very loyal customers.
"I don't know where else I'd get cider this good," customer Marie Boston said. "It's just sweet enough but not too sweet, and it has wonderful apple flavor."
Jeff said cider's good for about five weeks refrigerated, but some customers also freeze it.
"Take a little bit out of the jug for expansion, and then freeze it," Broom said. "And it comes out of the freezer just like you put it in."
And some others prefer it with a little spice.
"A real favorite is hot mulled cider, with mulling spices," Broom said. "Heat it up, and it's a good treat this time of year."
Reporting in Macoupin County, Mike Brooks, ABC News Channel 20.