EUGENE, Ore. — Apples–they are synonymous with Fall. Ripe, juicy, crisp apples are ripe and ready for picking, and at some orchards it’s time for some old-school harvesting.
One small orchard in Santa Clara has been around for more than 75 years and this year, the apples there are abundant. They grow ten different varieties. Ed Alverson is the owner. He’s a botanist by trade.
“Most of the apples I have here were developed in England and France hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and so people have been growing these varieties for a long time. It’s fun to be a part of that connection, part of that history,” Alverson said.
Many of their trees are new varieties Alverson planted, like the vibrant Liberty which is apple disease resistant.
Another variety is called Gold Rush. They taste like Golden Delicious, Alverson said, but they taste better and have a more robust flavor.
You might recognize another one of their apples, the Calville Blanc.
“This variety of apple painted in still life by Renaissance painters and so people can identify this apple in old master paintings hanging in museums,” Alverson said.
With the help of family and friends, they use an old-fashioned press to make apple cider. It’s a pretty simple process. First the apples are washed.
“You put them in the grinder and you basically get apple pulp that’s rich in juice, and then once you get the pulp, you slide it to the other end of the press and you crank down a round circle that squeeze the juice into a bucket,” said apple orchard owner Angie Ruzicka.
Out comes fresh-squeezed apple cider. The juice is then poured into gallon containers. They can make about eight gallons from two trees. The pulp is used as mulch.
It’s a time consuming process when you can just buy apple cider at store.
“But we have so many apples,” Alverson said. “It’s just a really good use of them, rather than letting them go to the ground and go to waste, and it’s kind of fun.”