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When life gives you apples

  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Bruce White makes apple cider at his Rindge farm on Oct. 11, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Conant field hockey vs. John Stark<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)

There is no perfect science when it comes to making the best tasting apple cider.

That’s because no two batches are ever the same.

Bruce White, owner of White Farm Stand on Route 119 in Rindge, has been making the fall drink for so long that he doesn’t need a recipe or a guideline. With 30 varieties of apples growing on two acres, White always has a way to make each batch its own.

“You’ve got to use what’s available,” said White. “The percentage of which apples is up to the cider maker. I’ve done it long enough that I know what apples will give me what flavors.”

When White first begins the process in the middle of September, his cider will have a much different taste and texture than what he produces batches for his Thanksgiving orders in late November.

While the ingredients may be changing, the process of producing his unpasteurized cider never does. For 25 years, White has been using the same cider press week after week and the people keep coming back.

“You try to make it every week so you always have fresh cider coming,” said White.

He starts by washing all the apples in a sanitizing solution each Wednesday night, less than 24 hours before he begins the cider making process. White does not use any apples that have fallen to the ground since the E-coli scare in the mid-1990s and does so for his own piece of mind. Once the apples are sanitized, White loads the apples into the chute a handful at a time and what emerges is the sweet smell of apples and a the start of a very big mess. The apples, core and stem included, are sent through a grinder and turned into a mash. The ground up apples fall into a polypropylene cloth that lay on top of plastic racks and a two-inch metal casing to give it the right depth for pressing.

“You don’t want your mash too thick,” White said. “ That’s the optimum depth to get the most out of the mash.”

White will stack eight to nine rack-cloth combinations before sliding the bundle beneath the press. White uses a slow speed to press down on the stack in order to get the most juice out of the mash. On the far end of the press is a plastic container to catch the juices, and just like the cloth acts as a filter, so does the screen on top of the container to help limit the amount of sediment that makes it into the final product.

During his cider making each Thursday, White will have a number of elements of the process going at once. After he gets one bundle of mash underneath the press, he will begin stacking another so it is ready once the first one has all its juices drained. After the mashing begins, juices are constantly flowing into the container at the end, but with as many as 70 gallons produced in a day, White needs to keep it open for the freshly pressed apples. He uses a 90-gallon stainless steel holding tank, attached to the plastic container by a hose, to house the cider, which is always circulating to keep the juices constantly moving.

With many varieties of apples going into each batch, White never begins bottling the cider until every drop is in the holding tank. He wants each bottle to have the same abundance of flavors and it is a standard he lives by.

“Ultimately you want it to taste just like you ate the apple,” said White.

While some farms will either boil or UV treat their cider to pasteurize it, White never has and never will. He says it changes the finished product and it is not something he is willing to do even if it limits how he can sell it. By law, unpasteurized cider can only be sold at the place it is made, so White’s cider will only be found at his farm stand in Rindge. And that’s the way he wants to keep it.

“When you do that, you might as well go buy apple juice,” said White of pasteurization of cider. “The unpasteurized cider has a distinct flavor that by pasteurizing it, you’ve ruined it.”

Pressing apple cider is something his father started a long time ago and it is why White can be found each Thursday in his garage running the old press.

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