apple cider, and cider donuts
are the essence of Autumn in Hudson Valley, New York. We visited Thompson's Cider Mill located in Croton-on-Hudson,
New York and met with owner Geoff Thompson to learn
more about his passion and dedication to making apple cider.
After visiting Thompson's Cider Mill, we have a new appreciation of the work that
goes into the art of making high-quality cider, which was much different than
how we had imagined it to be.
Thompson's Cider Mill
Thompson's Cider Mill on Friday, September 22, 2023, and met with owner Geoff
Thompson who became interested in making cider in 1975, although his orchard
has a long history that dates to the 1870s. Going into the cider mill we were
enthralled to hear Geoff's story and learn how he makes his apple cider, "Voted
Best Cider in Hudson Valley by LOHUD.com - The Journal News."
orchard has 525 trees and sells 50 varieties of apples, which consist of early
harvest and late harvest apples. Interesting to note about early harvest apples
is that they have a shorter shelf life. An example of an early harvest apple is
the Honey Crisp, which is ready to be picked at the end of August and runs
Geoff Thompson and his orchard
orchard with Geoff we learned that the top states for apple production are
Washington, which produces 50% of apples in the United States, with New York
State and Michigan also big producers. We also learned about the different
varieties of apples he grows by walking through the orchard and tasting the
various apples to get a feel for their flavor and textural differences. While
we knew several apple varieties, Geoff has some very different apple varieties
that we had never heard of before our visit.
Let's pick some apples
A Few of
the Varieties in Thompson's Orchard
Seek-no-Further - identified by its spotting.
Orange Pippin - this is a classic English dessert apple with a distinctive
orange red skin.
Banana - identified by its yellow skin.
Black - ripens late around the 20th of October.
introduced in 1922 by the University of Michigan. This apple can withstand very
cold temperatures and is very hardy.
Pink Lady -
this is the last variety Geoff will pick, around the 10th of
Island Greening - this is a very old American heirloom apple that dates to the
this variety will be ready to pick mid-October and is exceptionally good for
making cider. Geoff likes to use this variety for making his hard cider.
this is a medium-sized sweet apple.
this variety was developed by Cornell University and is disease resistant so
there is no need for orchards to spray them.
this variety is a true cider apple that is bitter to eat, does not last long,
and has lots of tannins.
this was the first variety Geoff planted. Interesting to know about "macs" is
that they drop their fruit early and picking is usually done by the first of
Pippen - was discovered in Queens, New York. This variety is a winter apple as
picking is late in the season in October.
Spies - Geoff likes to use this variety for pies.
this variety is a hard cider apple.
Ida Red -
this variety hails from the state of Idaho.
Russet - this variety only produces fruit bi-annually.
Russet - this apple is believed to be the oldest cultivar in the United States.
It is a good winter apple that was first discovered in the mid-17th
century in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
White Winter Pearmain - this is an old variety and ripens later in the season around the 20th of October.
Apple and Cider Facts
that studies or cultivates apples is known as a Pomologist.
apples produce fruit annually, some varieties only produce fruit bi-annually.
not native to the United States. The colonists brought them to the United
States, and thanks in part to the American Pioneer John Chapman (known as
Johnny Appleseed) (1774 - 1845) who propagated apples throughout the United
mostly water, and the rainier the season, the larger the apples. When you see
apples that are starting to split their skins, this is because they are growing
faster than their skins can accommodate their growth. While a rainy season
produces apples that are larger and juicier, their sugar content usually is not
freezes well so you can enjoy cider year-round. To freeze cider, simply lower
the level a little in the plastic bottle (to allow expansion when it freezes)
and place it in the freezer. Thaw when ready to drink.
The Art of
Making Thompson's Cider
selects a blend of apple varieties for his cider and uses a minimum of 10
different varieties. For the first pressing of the season, he used 9 different varieties,
for the second pressing, the blend will be about 15 different varieties as the
various apples start to ripen. By Thanksgiving, the cider blend can include an
exotic mix of up to 50 different varieties.
Collecting the apples to be pressed
step is to get the apples into bushel boxes; 40 pounds of apples in a box will
yield about 3 gallons of cider. The next step is to empty the boxes of apples
into the machine called a hopper that feeds the apples into a washer. The
washer is a machine that has a series of rollers and has water spraying down on
the apples to clean them. The apples roll down to the bottom of a conveyer that
then carries them up and drops them over a shredder.
Geoff Thompson showing us the lattice
apple is shredded and dropped down into a hopper. The shredded apple is called
pomace. The pomace is pumped from the hopper by a hose onto a cloth, which is
folded over several times and acts as a filter.
Spreading the pomace
each filled cloth, there is a wood lattice piece made of oak to separate up to
9 layers of pomace-filled cloths. Once 9 cloths are filled, they are winched down
under a steel plate to extract as much of the juice as possible and allow the
juices to run out through the cloths. The cloths function as filters to prevent
any of the apple pieces from getting into the cider.
Time to press
The juices then
run into a stainless-steel pan, then into a holding basin, and are then pumped
past an ultra-violet light required by the state of New York to kill any
harmful bacteria that could be present in the cider.
Fill 'em up
is then pumped into a bulk container and refrigerated until it is ready to put
into various size containers. Interesting to note is that after the juice is
pressed, the remaining pomace on the cloths is put into a bin that goes to the
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture to feed the chickens and pigs.
Hard Cider Tasting
demo, we tasted the first pressing of cider, and it was delicious! We followed
that with a tasting of Thompson's Hard Ciders, which range from dry to
semi-dry, all of which were well crafted and delicious, that you can read about
in the Liquor Cabinet section.
with wonderful memories of our visit to Thompson's Cider Mill and brought home
a delectable taste of Hudson Valley with a bag of the various apples, cider,
and hard ciders. Until next time, cheers and Bon Appetit!
Cider Mill which is open seasonally on Saturdays and Sundays. They are also at
Thompson's at Fable Farm, seasonally on Saturdays and Sundays.
Cider Mill is open seasonally on Saturdays and
Sundays from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. They are located at 335 Blinn Road, Croton-on-Hudson,
New York, where they sell apples, cider, and hard ciders.
Debra C. Argen and Geoff Thompson showing thier apple pickings
at Fable Farm is also open seasonally on Saturdays and
Sundays from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. The Farm is located at 1311 Kitchowan Road
(Route 134), Ossining, New York. They sell fresh apple cider, donuts, apples,
pies, and baked goods. They do not sell hard cider at that location.
more about Thompson's Cider Mill or to purchase their products, please visit
their website: www.ThompsonsCiderMill
New York 10520
Read more about Peekskill and
the area in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Gastronomy, Liquor Cabinet, Adventures, and Arts and Antiques sections.
information on the Hudson Valley, please visit the website: www.HudsonValley.org and www.VisitWestchesterNY.com
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