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Cider gallons make comeback at Burrville mill after vanishing from shelves

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After vanishing from refrigerator shelves at the Steiner family’s mill in Burrville last fall, gallons of freshly pressed apple cider have made a comeback.

Thanks to the outstanding apple harvest at orchards in the state, gallons are now available for $5.39 at the Burrville Cider Mill. The reintroduction of gallons comes after the mill elected to sell only half gallons last season, when drought-stricken orchards were compelled to increase apple prices by as much as 300 percent. Half gallons sold for $4.89 last fall to reflect wholesale apple prices, but now they’ve dipped to $3.39.

Co-owner Tina L. Steiner, 41, said customers have stopped by more often and have bought more cider, doughnuts, pies and other products since the cider mill opened Aug. 24.

“Last year was not profitable, and we were just able to pay for operational costs,” said Mrs. Steiner, whose parents, Gregory W. Sr. and Cynthia L. Steiner, bought the mill in 1996. “But apple prices are now ... lower than last year. And our cider prices are right back down to where they were in 2011. People are now stopping by many times and buying 3 to 4 gallons, but last year they were stopping by maybe once and buying less. We should be able to recoup from last year and double our production easily.”

The Steiner family purchased a cider press machine last season to increase production, Mrs. Steiner said, but couldn’t take advantage of it because of high apple prices. But the apple press — an investment of about $50,000 — is expected to pay off this season by producing more cider to keep pace with demand.

Mrs. Steiner’s 18-year-old son, Zachary K., said the press is producing about 1,000 gallons of cider per day, and it has the capacity to make up to 3,000 gallons a day. The mill is expected to at least double its annual production from last season, he said, which was about 40,000 gallons.

“We were making about seven bins per day at this time last year, and now we’re at about 14,” Mr. Steiner said Thursday morning while operating the loud press in the mill’s basement behind the store. “When the apple crop is bad, we have a bad season. But it’s good this year, and we’ll produce even more in October because it’s the busiest time of year.”

The mill buys the majority of its apples from Sinclair Orchards, Mexico, and the remainder from orchards in the Finger Lakes region, Mrs. Steiner said. Over the long term, she said, the business plans to evolve into a self-sufficient operation by harvesting apples from trees planted on family-owned property off Cramer Road in the town of Rodman. The family planted 100 trees at the orchard this spring, increasing its total to about 300.

“In about eight years, trees should be ready to harvest,” Mrs. Steiner said.

The mill is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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