Orchards leave upwards of 40% of their crop unharvested due to fruit dropping off the trees onto the orchard floor. We are looking to change that.
With support from the USDA, research and analysis support from Cornell University, we are teaching orchards across the United States that they can safely harvest ground fruit to turn into hard cider.
Our solution will:
- Provide a model HACCP plan for the harvest and processing of ground apples into cider intended for fermentation into hard cider
- Write a position paper with citations that producers and consumers can use to educate themselves and their stakeholders about cider for fermentation from ground apples.
- Demonstrate to orchards and producers through educational field days and orchard visits.
Do you want updates, HACCP templates, opportunities for field days?
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Issue 1: Apple Drops are Left Unharvested
Orchards leave upwards of 40% of their crop unharvested due to apples dropping off the trees and onto the ground. These apples are referred to in different locations as drops, windfalls, or ground apples. This unharvested crop is a huge waste for the orchard and unrealized economic potential.
Issue 2: Juice for Hard Cider Producers has not reached full potential
Cideries (producers or purchasers of wholesale cider for the fermentation of cider into hard cider) do not have a steady supply of cider from fully ripe apples (high sugar, tannin, and acid fruit). The juice which is readily available has not reached full potential sugar and taste profile due to being pressed from apples that are harvested prior to being fully ripe. Apples picked for fresh eating (hand apples) are picked prior to full sugar ripeness in order to provide better handling, transportation, cold-storage, and shelf-life. Most other cider-making areas of the world (examples: England, Spain, France) make their hard cider from ground harvested (fully ripe) fruit.
Issue 3: Loss of Economic Opportunities
Cideries frequently purchase apple cider (or juice or concentrate) from suppliers outside of Indiana, due to a lack of available Indiana produced cider, resulting in lost economic opportunities for Indiana communities.
- All orchards surveyed in Indiana and surrounding states are not pressing ground apples for cider intended for fermentation into hard cider. All orchards surveyed reported that they do not harvest ground apples due to a lack of understanding of what is required for them to safely (HACCP Plan) and legally (position paper with citations) harvest ground apples for fermentation into hard cider. Several orchards and cideries noted issues with other supply partners, insurance companies, or regulatory bodies as presenting too great an obstacle to make ground harvest fruit economically viable.
- The production of hard cider is growing double digits each year for the past 10 years according to the American Cider Association.
- Indiana has had seven new cideries in the past 10 years. Examples: Ash & Elm Cidery, Friendly Beasts, Ambrosia, Slaughter Orchard & Cidery.
- Indiana has multiple wineries which have started producing hard cider in recent years. Examples: McClures Orchard & Winery, Owen Valley Winery, Oliver Winery, Huber Winery.
Model HACCP Plan
- The first objective (deliverable) is to create a HACCP Plan for the harvest and processing of ground apples into cider intended for fermentation into hard cider.
- This HACCP plan will be implemented and tested through third party validation of both the plan (Quality Assurance) and the subsequent results (Inspection).
- The second objective (deliverable) is to write a position paper with citations that producers and consumers can use to educate themselves and their stakeholders about cider for fermentation from ground apples. These stakeholders include orchards, cider mills, cideries, wholesale juice buyers, insurance companies, local health departments, and financial partners.
- The third objective is to share both of the above deliverables with the stakeholders identified above through educational field days and orchard demonstrations.
- Off-orchard presentations will be made (or have been applied for) at ACA CiderCon, USApple Annual Meeting, Great Lakes Fruit & Vegetable Expo, Indiana Small Farm Conference, and Indiana Hort Congress.
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If you have any questions or comments, please fill out the form below, and we will follow up with you.
Title: Safe Harvest and Processing of Traditional and Ground Harvest Apples for Hard Cider
Authors: Dr. Clayton H. Slaughter, Tara B. Slaughter, Zachary G. McIntosh
USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant 2023
Awardee: Slaughter Farms LLC dba Slaughter Orchard & Cidery