Each time I walked by the bags of apples in my garage, I felt guilty. They were beautiful, small crabapples but I couldn’t find time to juice them. In previous autumns I would have spent hours quartering each apple, boiling water and sealing jars. This year, I couldn’t even find a few minutes in my day to begin the process. That’s when I remembered a friend telling me about Apple Junction, and I quickly located the phone number to make an appointment. When the day arrived, my children and I tossed our two bags of unwashed apples into the van and headed 2-1/4 miles east of Landmark, Manitoba on provincial road 210. When we spotted the bright, welcoming sign with the big red apple and the words “Fresh Pressed Apple Cider,” we knew we had reached our destination.
We were welcomed by owners Tony and Debbie Unger who were already busy at work. The Ungers had purchased the press in 2004 and moved it from its former location in Kleefeld, Manitoba to their business near Landmark. The peak season for the press is autumn but they operate until the end of February and then break for a short time.
Upon arrival, customers can place their apples in large wooden apple bins, but since we only had two small bags, we just set them on the floor near the press. My children were fascinated by the machine. Tony invited them to bring their bag of apples to the press and cheerfully included the children in the process. They watched their apples being washed and moved up the auger into the grinder. The chopped apples then fell onto a cloth which was folded by an employee. The stack of cloths was then pressed and the cider oozed out of the cloths as the apple chunks were compressed. The cider then drained into a barrel where it was ready to be bottled. Customers have the option of bringing their own containers or purchasing two-litre or four-litre jugs that are available to buy for a few cents.
Before we knew it, our apples were through the press and as Tony said, “It’s the fastest kitchen cleanup system.” Soon we were carrying 12 litres of apple cider to our vehicle.
People throughout the province visit Apple Junction each fall to have their apples pressed. “We have customers coming from as far as Carman, Winnipeg, Brandon and Killarney,” Tony said. Surrounded by grainfields, the country atmosphere adds to the experience. It is an educational activity for the entire family, and it feels great to return home with wonderful apple cider with only the minimal effort of picking and transporting the fruit.
Apple cider is sold at Apple Junction nine months of the year, for those who love cider but do not have their own apples. It is also available at the St. Norbert Farmer’s Market where it is sold by Mum’s Country Bakery, a business owned by the Ungers.
For more information, contact Apple Junction at (204) 355-9288.
– Sheila Braun writes from Landmark, Manitoba.