We press our cider with a JWI 18 inch continuous belt press. The apples drop into a blade mill on one end, the pumice is pressed between two long porous belts, the juice drips into a catch pan, and the dry pumice falls out the other end. The dry pumice goes out through the wall on an elevator. The cider is pumped through a course rotary filter and then goes into a 500 gallon refrigerated bulk tank. We hold the cider in the big tank until we are ready to bottle.
The cider is pumped from the bulk tank into our new CiderSure Ultraviolet light pasteurizer. Technically the machine is not a pasteurizer because the cider stays cool but it provides the same level of sanitation as a thermal Pasteurizer. From the CiderSure machine the cider goes through one last filter and into a 50-gallon holding tank that gravity feeds into the bottler. The cider is put into half gallon or gallon jugs, packed into cases, palletized, and tucked away in the cooler where it stays at about 38 degrees while it waits to go to your local coop.
We use a CiderSure 3500B to treat our fresh cider. This machine is not a true pasteurizer because the cider stays cool through the process.
Thermal pasteurization brings the cider to high temperatures and then cools it quickly. Some of these thermal pasteurizers bring the cider to a very high temperature getting close to the boiling point. Many of the small-scale machines have inconsistent results and are difficult to operate. High temperature pasteurization often changes the taste and quality of the cider. Many of the natural enzymes that some people want in their cider are affected by the heat. The tangy zip of the cider is often softened or lost after heating, leaving a flat tasting product. After a bunch of research we decided that the UV machine would be the best option for our cider and our customers.
Many of you have heard of Ultraviolet lamps used to sanitize medical equipment or other tools that need to be sanitized. The CiderSure machine uses this old technology in a new way. A thin film of cider is pumped through a clear tube that is surrounded by eight low-pressure mercury UV lamps. This exposes the cider to the Ultraviolet light that kills pathogens without heat.
The CiderSure kills the pathogens that can survive in cider and cause illness in people. The microorganism that has caused the majority of food borne illness outbreaks in connection to cider consumption across the US is Escherichia coli O157:H7. The protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum survives in cider and can cause severe gastroenteritis in healthy adults and can be life threaten in children, elderly, and the immunocompromised. The CiderSure machine will cause a 5-log reduction in both of these microorganisms. This meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for cider pasteurization.
Cider is pumped through an array of UV emitting tubes. The flow rate is controlled by a computer interface with Ultraviolet sensors that read the UV penetration every 20 milliseconds. The computer controls the pump, increasing or decreasing the flow rate to give the required 5-log reduction no matter what the density or darkness of the cider is.