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‘Like you’re drinking an apple’ — Zollinger cider is that fresh

October 14th, 2015 Posted in Arts and Life

By Melanie Fenstermaker

RIVER HEIGHTS — When River Heights resident Judy Weston takes a sip of Zollinger apple cider, it’s like “going home.”

Zollinger cultivates more than 1,000 apples trees, in 14 varieties. (Mel;anie Fenstermaker photo)

Zollinger cultivates more than 1,000 apples trees, in 14 varieties. (Melanie Fenstermaker photo)

“It’s so fresh,” she said. “There’s so much flavor and it’s not too sweet. It’s just like eating an apple.”

Weston isn’t the only Cache County resident who loves the cider from Zollinger Fruit and Tree Farm at 1000 River Heights Blvd. The farm, which is 111 years old, sells about 10,000 gallons of cider each year, nearly 80 percent in Cache County, farm owner Ron Zollinger said.

He said the primary reason the farm’s cider so fresh-tasting is that it’s pasteurized with ultraviolet light rather than heat.

“When you heat it, like in traditional pasteurization, it ruins the flavor,” Zollinger said. “With this system, it tastes like you’re drinking an apple.”

Although the farm has changed since Zollinger’s grandfather founded it in 1904, he said the process of making cider, except for added attention to sanitation, is more or less the same as it’s always been.

First, the apples are picked and sorted, Zollinger said. The cider is made with 14 different kinds of apples — from Cortlands to Galas to Jonathans — he said, all of which are grown on the more than 1,000 apple trees in the farm’s 15-acre orchard.

Only high-quality apples go into Zollinger cider, he said.

“A lot of places turn an apple into cider because they can’t sell it, but we’re very particular,” he said. “We use apples that are smaller, maybe not colored as well. We don’t use windfalls or anything where the skin’s been broken, or anything that’s been stored too long.”

Zollingers also sells nearly 100 kinds of trees and shrubs. (Melanie Fenstermaker photo)

Zollinger’s also sells nearly 100 kinds of trees and shrubs. (Melanie Fenstermaker photo)

After the apples are selected and washed, Zollinger said, they are ground into “apple pulp.” He said the pulp is then made into “patties,” wrapped in porous nylon cloth and stacked in a cider press. The juice is filtered into two large tanks, sent to the ultraviolet light unit and then packaged into gallon, half-gallon and single-serving containers, Zollinger said.

The cider is sold in grocery stores across Cache County and the Wasatch Front, but many customers shop at the store on the farm’s property in River Heights, Zollinger said.

“We have a lot of local support,” he said. “We have customers that come back year after year.”

Will Macfarlane, 7, came to the Zollinger farm store with his mother, Judy Macfarlane, on Saturday. “I’ve been going here since I was born,” he said.

His mother says she likes the idea of supporting local farms, as she helped her son open a bottle of apple cider. He sipped it, grinned, and said, “Ah, that’s good.”

Zollinger said his family takes pride in its multi-generational business and the farm’s range of products.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” Zollinger said. “I’d like to think we don’t lose what previous generations have learned; we try to add to it.”

Zollinger’s was awarded state Century Farm status in 2004, on its 100th anniversary, the farm’s website says; in 2006, the property was placed under a conservation easement to preserve it for the future. Besides apples, Zollinger’s raises pumpkins, squashes and melons, and specializes in trees and shrubs, offering nearly 100 different varieties.

Apple season runs from mid-September through mid-October, Zollinger said, but apples are usually available until January, and frozen cider is sold year-round. The farm is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

TP

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