Thursday, October 23, 2014

Minnesota Harvest Orchard


Recently, the fine folks at Minnesota Harvest Orchard in Jordan, MN invited Jack of All Brews homebrew club out to do a cider pressing demo.  This is the second year we have done so and we were excited to go back!  Several years ago our club invested in an old fashioned 1800's looking wooden cider press and have made good use of it over the years.  This old-school technology still works and looks great out at the orchard, taking one back in time to early American settler days in Minnesota. 

We arrived around 11 AM on a Sunday, swollen orange fall sun shedding rich light on the orchard grounds.  Already the place was bustling with people, but soon would be filled to bursting with families looking for autumn fun.

Over the morning and into the afternoon JAB members and their families trickled in and took part in the apple pressing process.  We soon got things into a pretty efficient pattern.  A few people would rinse the apples in buckets of water, then toss the apples into the grinder at the top of the press.  A few years ago one of our members added on a motor to this, making it much more efficient than hand cranking it!  Once the hopper was full, we would put the lid on it and hand crank the press, resulting in fresh apple juice cascading into our waiting bucket.  We found about 100 apples would give us just over 1 gallon of juice. 

Ready to ferment!

The orchard itself is massive, with a huge main building holding a gift shop, food counter, and now a bar.  Outside were another portable bar, a food truck serving amazing pizza, and more!  Add in the world's shortest sunflower maze, hay rides, ponies, (evil) petting zoo, and apple catapult, and you have a ton of entertainment! 

This year, Tim Roets and his sons Dylan and PJ are presiding over Minnesota Harvest's new farm winery.  Tim is currently working on his own brewery in Jordan as well, but hit a big snag when this spring's monsoon rainfall caused a mudslide into the old Jordan Brewery building where he was setting up shop.  He still hopes to be brewing by this winter.  In the mean time, he is making apple ales, hard ciders, and meads for the orchard.  I got to try a few of his concoctions and was impressed as always with his ingenuity.

A jovial Tim Roets showing off the new tasting bar!

Overall this was a really fun way to spend a fall day!  Thanks to the Minnesota Harvest folks for having us out and providing apples, and to Tim and his sons as well. 

1 comment:

Brady said...

Bummed I missed this again this year. Though i did take the family down there the other weekend and the little one had a blast. Not to mention I got to sample all of the fantastic concoctions Mr. Roets and sons had on tap. He was kind enough to give me a little behind the scenes tour. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the operation and all of his apple based offerings were mighty tasty. Looking forward to his beers!