We have made Apple Cider Syrup for our guests for several years, but have not been able to make syrup for outside sales under our permit with Ag & Markets. We have toyed with the idea of making a commercial kitchen, but other projects keep popping up. In December we met Joe Mullaney from Glen Industries, a division of The Arc of Schuyler that does food co-packing. After a tour of their kitchen we realized that they could produce in a few hours what would take days in any kitchen we could build. We supply the materials and our recipe, and they do the rest!
Our first batch was made this week. We raced up to Medina on Tuesday to get cider fresh from the press, and delivered it to Glen Industries with all the other ingredients. Early Thursday I arrived to oversee the syrup production. Joe and the kitchen supervisor Chad were all set to get things rolling.
The batch handled a lot like the small batches we do at home- just much bigger quantities. Ingredients that were tablespoons turn into pounds, cup measures become hundred pounds. Joe and Chad have a set of huge wire whisks that stir out the lumps just like at home, only with two hands and some muscles. There is an electric mixer available, but the whisks worked pretty well. The steam heat brought up the temperature on the batch very quickly. However, unlike our gas stove at home, once the pot starts boiling it stays boiling even after the heat is reduced.
The other piece of equipment that is a huge time saver is the filling machine. The syrup is loaded into a hopper, and preset amounts are measured into the bottles. Workers set the bottle under the nozzle and press a foot switch and the bottle is filled and ready to go to the capper. Another worker twists on the cap and makes sure the bottle is clean (when working with syrup, sticky happens). After the bottles cool the labels and safety seals will be applied.
All told, it took a bit over 3 1/2 hours to make and bottle over five hundred jars of syrup. In our home process it would take two or three long days to get to the same point. Joe and his crew did a great job, and we hope to have them making more syrup in the near future!