Cider Making

Feature Story September 2003
Cider Making
by Mrs. Israel …Gertrude…Heim
For many years Grandpa John J. Heim had a cider mill and from the time that the last of the summer apples were picked and stored, and the windfalls picked up, Grandpa was a busy man. At that time in Richardson County Nebraska almost every farm had a sizeable orchard, and the people regularly made cider and vinegar.

In Grandpa Heim’s cellar were many barrels filled with cider in various stages of vinegar making. Grandpa was a expert vinegar maker and spent many hours working with his barrels. And when his product was ready for use, it was REAL vinegar.

Before 1902, when we installed a phone, he made his grinding dates by word of mouth. After our phone was installed his customers phoned to me and I kept a date book, making dates when they could come and have their apples ground. It was my job to find out how many apples they expected to have ground. A half wagon load took so much time and a whole wagon load took accordingly. During the busy season I would tell Grandpa who was coming and how many apples they were bringing. And many days, even after he was quite elderly, he would work from early morning until late at night at his cider press. And when the season was over he would always give me a dollar for keeping his cider dates. Cider making went out when drought and insect pests not only destroyed the apples but the trees as well.

The apples were ground by means of a grinder run by horse power. This horse power was salvaged from the first threshing machine the family owned. The power was furnished by Grandpa’s team, Dolly and Lady who were so well trained they needed no driver except Grandpas word of mouth.

After the apples were ground the pulp was put in a big hand press that Grandpa operated by hand. The cider was then put into barrels or kegs brought by the customer. If those vessels failed to hold all of the cider, the surplus was often given to Grandpa. This he would add to his vinegar supply.