We have a small orchard (60 dwarf trees, roughly half Honeycrisps, and an onsite cider processing facility that includes an electric apple grinder, a bladder press with a four-bushel apple pomace capacity that produces around three gallons of apple juice per bushel, and a bank of four two-gallon pasteurizers.
We are registered with the State of Indiana as a Wholesale Food Establishment, which permits us to sell our produce to grocery stores and restaurants, and a Farm Winery license, which permits us to sell cider at our farm stand, which is visible lower left beyond the driveway and through the trees.
For your information, you can view our Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan and the Custom Pressing Section in The Indiana State Department of Health Food Protection Program Guide to Producing Safe Cider on our Disclaimer Page. The Guide, with which we are in full compliance, can be accessed at in.gov/Apple_Cider_Guide-_-August_2005.doc
However, we have a bottleneck. Our trees, which were planted in 2016, have been slow to grow and slower to produce. A mature dwarf is expected to produce about four bushels per tree. See how many apples you can count on the apparently healthy tree to the right.
Apples suitable for juicing – and guaranteed not to include drops – cost about $0.25 each retail, or about $20.00/bushel wholesale. This means that a gallon of our juice from outside apples, before processing, costs us upwards of $6.67 to produce. Labor, packaging, storing, and marketing, which pretty much doubles that cost. We can easily compete on taste, but we cannot compete on price with higher volume producers.
What then to do? We would be happy to collaborate with orchards, small or not so small, who have a limited crop or a limited specialty crop (e. g., crab apples) and would find it more convenient and more profitable for us to process their apples (in four bushel lots) into cider, pasteurized or unpasteurized, soft or hard.
So: Here’s the Deal! You get half of the product back, packaged and ready drink, and we keep the other half.