In the Field: Busti Cider Mill
Tucked into a wooded area amid the picturesque farmland of Jamestown, Busti Cider Mill makes apple cider with all the right ingredients: local apples, an unhurried process, and years of experience. Owned by husband and wife duo Bob and Judy Schultz, the cider mill itself dates back to 1890. Although it is originally from Syracuse, it made its way to Sanborn, New York, where the Schultz family saw it and acquired it about thirty years ago. Bob says the roof of the building it was in had collapsed: “It was sticking up through the roof and it looked interesting. I liked old machinery, and it was old.”
Bob rebuilt the mill with his son over a period of about a year and a half. “We opened in 1983 with the first pressing, and we’ve been going ever since then,” he says. Due to the mill’s size, they needed to install a foundation first and then construct the rest of the building around it.
With seventeen acres of land to work with, and already selling pumpkins each fall, Bob thought it would be interesting to grow apples. Today, the Schultzes produce around 5,000 gallons of cider annually, depending on the weather and the crop yield. They use a variety of juice-grade apples to make their cider, relying on what is in season at the time of pressing.
“The apples are all the common varieties that you see in the grocery store—but ours are all blemished in some way, and don’t look nice, so they go to the cider bin,” says Bob. The pair stress that their cider always comprises a blend of apples, rather than a single variety; they believe that this enhances the flavor.
In addition to the apples used, the process for making cider is like old-fashioned magic, with a single, well-trained farmer and large, strong machine teaming up to do the work. Outside, raw apples get washed and are taken by elevator to the building’s second floor, where they’re crushed and ground. The remains drop on to the pressing table where they are hand-wrapped in a blanket-like cloth, and then transferred to the press. The wrapped packet of ground apples is slowly and evenly crushed as the press descends upon them, squeezing them, and expelling the juice. The juice runs down the sides of the bed into a small trough that leads to a pump and into a storage tank. This tank is treated with ultraviolet light, and flows into another storage tank from which the bottling is done.
“The cider is not what you get in the grocery store,” says Judy. “We treat ours with ultraviolet light, which kills the bacteria without heating it, so it tastes fresher.” Busti Cider Mill’s cider does not contain any preservatives.
In addition to the apples, the Schultzes grow about 125 varieties of vegetables. “We go A to Z, artichokes to zucchinis,” says Judy, ticking off asparagus, salad mix, pea shoots, spinach, chard, beets, carrots, beans, and more from her mental list. With the help of two very large greenhouses and hoop houses, the Schultzes can grow food yearround. “We try to grow some unusual things too. We like to have a good, wellrounded supply of vegetables,” says Judy. Among their top crops in terms of sales is lettuce, including four different varieties of leaf lettuces.
“One of the biggest fields [we have] is for potatoes,” adds Bob. “We dig them starting with baby potatoes, creamers. We continue to dig them all year into the fall, and then put them in storage.”
The Schultzes also operate a quaint farm store, where their vegetables and fruits are sold, along with a selection of local crafts and goods. Edibles range from maple syrup and dairy products to coffee and baked goods. “I have a license for my kitchen,” says Judy, who makes pies, apple butter, apple jelly, and more. “I do some very strange mixtures, such as raspberry/peach and bumbleberry—just some different things.” In addition, there are fresh and dried flowers, knit clothes, handbags, baby quilts, and afghans. Judy’s employees make many of the items by hand.
Cider season officially begins in mid-September and runs through December, but the operation sometimes starts in August with early apples. The cider press operates September 15 through October 31, and the public is invited to watch the pressing at no cost. Free mill tours are available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and farm tours are also available for a modest charge. The Schultzes undoubtedly work hard to create a warm and welcoming environment in their mill and market, and visiting during the growing and harvesting seasons is a great experience for young and old alike.
Busti Cider Mill & Farm Market
1135 Southwestern Dr., Jamestown, 14701