By Denise D'Alessandro
The Jericho Cider Mill, located on Route 106 in Jericho, signals to local residents that fall is here. The mill is not only special for Jericho residents - some travel great distances to purchase fall treats at Jericho's Cider Mill.
The original Jericho Cider Mill, which opened in the early 1800s, was located directly west of the old barn north of the present cider mill on Route 106. The exact date the original cider mill was started is unknown, but it is estimated to be in the 1820s.
The original cider mill was a typical building of that era: it was a three-story wooden barn, the third story being a hayloft. The rock and brick foundation enclosed a large basement where tracks were later put down and probably used for the carts that carried the cider casks. Nearby were two large buildings where some of the cider and vinegar were stored.
The firm of Ketchum and Jaeger operated the Jericho Cider Mill at that time. At the turn of the century, George Doughty's grandfather, Benjamin Doughty, bought it. For decades, the mill's big moneymaker was champagne cider, but in 1919, Prohibition closed down the Cider Mill.
Another farmer, John Hicks, started a cider mill about 1,000 feet further along Route 106. Hicks was a member of the Long Island family whose members include the Quaker preacher Elias Hicks and Valentine Hicks, one time president of the Long Island Rail Road. Hicks' mill produced vinegar and sweet cider until his death in the 1930s. Farmer John Zulkofske then bought the mill from the Hicks' nephew and moved the equipment back to the original mill site. That original cider mill was torn down, but the Jericho Cider Mill, in another barn, kept pressing the apple ambrosia.
The present cider mill, a two-story white barn, presses more than 40,000 gallons of the sweet liquid each season. It is now owned by Jericho resident John Zulkofske's son George. He runs the mill along with his wife and daughter. The German-made Willmes cider press that George uses now is capable of pressing 3,000 gallons of cider in ten hours.
The process for making the cider is very intricate. The mill purchases the apples from the Hudson Valley and they are then inspected and washed. Then, the small Delicious, McIntosh and Winesap apples are loaded into the Willmes press. They are ground and pressed and the cider is then pumped into big tanks in the mill's attic. After settling and chilling, the cider is gravity-fed into jugs and refrigerated until sold.
The apple leftovers, called mash, are very high in nitrogen. Although some gardeners take away mash from the mill, George still has to deliver about two truckloads weekly to the town dump.
The pasteurized cider is not comparable to what is available in the stores, according to George. "We make and sell unadulterated cider compared to what is sold in the supermarket," said George. "That is our biggest gripe - people are selling cider that has been watered down."
The mill is open from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. seven days a week from September through Mother's Day. In addition to cider, the mill has a bakery on the premises where they make apple pies, cakes and crisps and cookies.