ambience: general barn ambience, sound of cider press; crank, drain, buckets
In the northeastern United States, October is apple harvest time. And for one family in upstate New York, itâ€™s the start of an annual ritual. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. For Pulse of the Planet listener Joella Oâ€™Brian itâ€™s cider-making time. The Oâ€™Brianâ€™s and the Blackwells have been gathering at the family farm in Lyons, New York each year for the past forty years to celebrate what they call “cider day.”
“This day I would say is definitely about coming together as a family.”
The Oâ€™Brian – Blackwell cider fest takes place each year on the first weekend in October. Itâ€™s a chance for far-flung relations and family friends alike to gather together for the seasonal ritual of grinding apples into cider.
“The process of making cider starts with going to the orchard and picking apples right from the trees. They have to be washed, sorted, any bad ones – and I have all of that process ready when family and friends arrive to grind the cider.”
Several dozen family members and friends take part in the cider making, which revolves around an antique hand cranked cider press. When we visited the cider fest last year, Joellaâ€™s son Jeff Blackwell was overseeing the pressesâ€™ operation. Jeff makes his way back to his family farm each October from his home in Nantucket Island.
“It takes a fair amount of strength to turn the crank to grind up the apples. My nephew is old enough now, at eight years old, to turn the crank, but anyone younger than seven or eight is not going to be able to do it.”
By the end of the day, the family will produce and bottle about eighty gallons of fresh cider with the old hand cranked press.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.