Arthur business creates cider from patrons' own apples

Arthur business creates cider from patrons' own apples

ARTHUR – Interested in a jug of apple cider, made fresh while you wait, with your own homegrown apples?

The Shady Crest Orchard and Farm Market south of Arthur has a longtime tradition of pressing apples into cider and drawing customers from miles around for the unique service.

Cider aficionados can bring bushels of their own apples or purchase gallon jugs of cider already made from apples grown at the Shady Crest Orchard.

Cephas Yoder and his wife, Dena, and his sister, Ada Yoder, who jointly operate Shady Crest, began the apple-pressing operation shortly after Labor Day. It runs through the apple season, ending late October or maybe into November.

The orchard offers the custom cider pressing only on Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"We had a line of people here this morning, waiting," Cephas Yoder, 27, said last Thursday.

"One year we had as many as 20 people lined up, and one man came as early as 4 a.m. to get a first turn."

Most of his customers bring their own plastic jugs to save a quarter. Cephas said he's known customers who drive for an hour-and-a-half for the cider. The farm's fall offerings also include homegrown mums and asters, pumpkins squash and of course, several varieties of apples.

Joan and Ken McDonald of Sullivan brought in about 5 bushels of apples Thursday morning and left with 13 gallons of cider. The summer was bad for her 44 trees, she said. Last year they got 84 gallons of cider from their Gala apples.

"We enjoy it," Joan McDonald said. " We don't get the preservatives and we enjoy it natural."

They first learned of Shady Crests' custom cider press through a neighbor, and they appreciate the tip.

"It's inexpensive when you consider what you pay for cider in the store," she said. The McDonalds paid $24 for the 13 gallons they had pressed last Thursday.

Because the Yoders are members of the Old Order Amish faith, hydraulic motors are used to run some of the equipment, rather than electricity. The apples are run through a machine that gives them a wash, and then they are chopped before being put into the press, which exudes the cider with 1,800 psi of pressure.

"We can do a 20-gallon batch in 20 to 25 minutes," Cephas said. The cider is bottled and capped in sterile plastic jugs and kept cool.

The Shady Crest Orchard was started nearly 30 years ago by Martha and Lonnie Yoder, the parents of Cephas and Ada. Lonnie Yoder began offering the custom cider pressing, and the orchard remains one of a very few in the area that offers it. The orchard has about 5 acres devoted to apple production, according to Cephas.

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