Our Famous Apple Juice
People often ask us, what is the secret to your great tasting apple juice?
We give all kinds of answers about the geography of the area, and the fact that our juice is pure, and the fact that we sing to our apples every night. Just kidding. We don't do that! (at least I don't think we do). But the truth is, our secret isn't very sneaky: Great apple juice starts with great apples! We use high-quality apples to make our juice. Vernon really is a perfect place to grow apples. The combination of our hot Okanagan sunshine and the cool nights of our Fall make for spectacular natural sugar content and flavor in our apples.
We do not use apples that have fallen off the tree, aka "windfalls" to make our juice. There is too much risk of bacteria and disease in fruit that has been sitting on the ground.
We can guarantee that each apple in each jug of juice was carefully picked by hand! We use special picking bags, which open from the bottom so our apples never need to be dumped and jostled. Once they are placed in the bin, we bring them by tractor to our on-site packing house.
Here we go through the bins and check each apple. If they are in perfect condition - they head to the market for sale in boxes or bags. If the fruit is smaller or a different shape it goes into the juice bin. We are proud of the fact that we do not waste any apple that is safe to use on our farm, between juice and pies we have a purpose for all of them!
We always make sure that when we make juice, we use at least 5 different varieties of apples. There is a great technique in mixing the varieties to balance the sugar content and acidy level. The blend of different types brings out the best flavor and ensures that it has that sweetness our juice is known for.
From the packing shed, the apples are brought by forklift to our juicing room. This is a special sanitary room that contains our juice press and our juice storage tanks. The room is made so that the whole place can be hosed down to keep it as clean as possible.
Once the apples get to the juice room, the first thing we do is wash them! The whole bin slowly tips up and gently lets the apples fall on rotating foam bristle brushes. They slowly move down the brushes, and combined with our clean Canadian water the apples come out sparkling!
After they're washed, the apples carefully move up the conveyer belt to the chopper!
As they move through the chopper, they are blended to a pulp. Literally! We chop all parts of the apple including core and skin. This ensures we get to press every bit of goodness, aka flavor and nutrition - out of every part of the apple. The small pieces allow for more surface area for the natural juice to escape.
Once they are well blended, the apple pulp is moved through a tube from the chopper to the next stop - the press!
We use an accordion style cold-press for our juice. A series of large mesh bags are hung in a row. We fill each bag with the chopped pieces of apple.
Then, like an accordion, the bags are pressed together, which puts pressure on the apple pieces, squeezing the juice from the flesh of the fruit.
Slowly, the juice seeps through the fine mesh, leaving only the pulp behind in the bags. Under the juicing bags, there is a large stainless steel tray that catches every drip!
The whole press is then tipped up, and the dry pulp is dumped out. The pulp moves by conveyer belt into another apple bin. A local cattle rancher picks up the pulp, apparently it is the ultimate treat for cows! They love apple pulp and it provides them with excellent nutrition. The benefit to us is that we know that all parts of the apple are being used for food; there is literally no waste.
Meanwhile, the juice is being pumped from the tray beneath the press to our pasteurizer. "Cider-Sure" uses a special process of UV light to pasteurize the juice without heating it up. In fact, you will notice that in the whole process of making our juice, heat is never used. This keeps the juice raw, which gives it that "fresh apple taste", but it also protects the nutritional value of the juice. Also, note that no water is added to our juice. It is not diluted by anything at all, which is why it takes so many apples! Each 4L jug has the nutrition & vitamins of 25 apples!
After it goes through the UV light pasteurizer, the juice is moved to refrigerated stainless steel tanks - originally built to store milk, but they work perfectly for juice. In fact, our juice has all the same storage requirements as milk - keep it between 1 and 5 degrees and it will keep about 10 - 14 days. Because it is 100% natural and has no preservatives eventually it will begin to ferment. Now, there are some people that do that type of thing on purpose, but that's another story.
From there, our juice is jugged and labeled and then moved into our walk-in-coolers or freezers where it stays until one of you comes to pick it up and bring it home to your table!
We are thankful that our juice freezes PERFECTLY. We sell it frozen in the market, which is a great alternative when buying bulk. This is the best way to buy juice if you will be travelling with it to make sure it stays cool. Alternatively, if you are travelling with a cooler an option is to buy one frozen to use as an ice pack to keep the rest of the fresh juice cold.
You can find it frozen in the market coolers, right beside the frozen pies and dough balls. Remember though- if you buy frozen juice there are 2 tricks. Thaw it completely before you pour that first glass, and make sure to shake it well! The natural sugars dissolve first, and so if you skim some off the top before it thaws completely, you are stealing the sugars from future glasses. The shaking keeps it well blended in case any settling has happened.
And last but not least, some of our juice makes the trip across the parking lot to the cafe or market, where we make it into Applelanches! Again, there is no sugar added to these drinks either - nothing but pure apple juice!
And that ends our part in the story of apple juice! Be sure to come up to the farm and try some for yourself. We offer free samples in our market every day we are open.