Pressing matter 

Here’s your chance to visit the thrilling days of yesteryear.

Brighter Day Natural Foods Market is going to sponsor an old-fashioned apple pressing on Sunday, Nov. 7 from 1-4 p.m. The cider press that will be used was imported from Spain by Michael S. Porterfield Jr.

“It’s an authentic reproduction of the kind of press that has been used for hundreds of years,” he says.

The press is entirely hand-operated. ”There’s a hand crank,” Porterfield says. “We can get almost 18 bushels of apples in it when it’s full. It produces anywhere from 30 to 40 gallons of apple cider.”

The process begins with a hand-operated grinder. The apples are crushed to a pulp in the grinder, then put into the press.

“From start to finish, you probably will start drinking cider within 45 minutes,” Porterfield says. “We’ll start doing it around 1 p.m. We’re going to go slow so people can see how the process works.”

In addition to offering people the chance to see how cider is made, Porterfield wants to highlight the difficulties facing small family farmers.

“Small apple orchards are going out of business,” he says. “At one time, every orchard had its own apple press. Now they’re going extinct.”

Because of regulations, only a handful of farms can legally make cider today. Porterfield discovered apple pressing from friends who live in Spain.

“I asked them to find me a press,” he says. “They bought it and I bought it from them and imported it to Savannah.”

So far, the press has been taken to folk and bluegrass festivals and other types of events. Porterfield belongs to a local religious community and he and other members take the press to an annual event in Washington, D.C. that is called Rekindling the Faith.

Porterfield thinks the cider press is a good match for a fall festival at Brighter Day. Free samples of cider will be given out during the event.

Response to the cider press by spectators at other events is always positive, Porterfield says. “People love it because it’s a very interactive event,” he says. “Children can throw apples into the grinder. Most children today don’t even realize apple juice comes from apples.”

Handmade cider is only one highlight of the event. Brighter Day co-owner Janie Brodhead says there will be food demonstrations and foot-stomping music from The Crabettes throughout the afternoon.

There also will be samples of fall foods, selections of organic produce and vendors. ”I think it will be fun,” Brodhead says. ”We’re excited because it seems like something good to do in the fall. The leaves don’t really turn color here like they do in other places, but we can still celebrate the harvest.”

The apples used to make the cider will all be organic, Brodhead says. The celebration has been scheduled in honor of Brighter Day’s anniversary and also to celebrate the fact that its produce section has been reopened with an all-organic section.

Part of the block in front of the store, which is located at 1102 Bull St., will be closed to traffic for the event. ”We will do food demos, including tofu turkey,” Brodhead says. ”We will have some ideas for the holidays.”

Brodhead learned about the cider press from Porterfield, who used to work in Brighter Day’s produce department, and other members of the religious community.

“We’ve known them since they’ve lived in Savannah,” she says. “They’re wonderful,” Brodhead says. ”They follow the principles of wholesome living. They live by example.”


Brighter Day Natural Foods Market on Park Avenue at the south end of Forsyth Park sponsors the old-fashioned apple pressing Sunday, Nov. 7 from 1-4 p.m.


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Linda Sickler

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