News From The Farm


How Safe is Your Apple Cider?

According to our own cider industry, made up of the counties largest cider producers, if the apple cider you are drinking is not pasteurized then you are putting yourself and family member at risk of illness.  This is a complicated issue.  The apple industries own national organization, US Apple, is lobbying states and the federal governments to ban the sale and consumption of unpasteurized cider.  Is unpasteurized apple cider a danger to consumers? 

Unlike larger cider mills, Charlton Orchards Farm, uses only our own apples, washes and grades the apples before crushing, and any and all questionable apples are composted. Nathan Benjamin, Sr., has been utilizing this method of cider production for over 45 years, with no reports of any health issues by consumers.  So why ban unpasturiezed apple cider?  The largest issue is that even a small health outbreak would cripple the cider industry, and the big guys need protection.   The other smaller issue is, that, people need to be protected from themselves.  Such as seat belt laws. 

Small mom and pop apple cider producers want to protect their customers, but in many cases, pasteurizers cost ten of thousands of dollars to install and operate. Most small producers are lucky to make a few thousand dollars selling their cider.  Small producers like Charlton Orchards Farm also believe that stringent sanitation practices consistently produce safe apple cider without pasteurization.

What about the other issue of pesticide residue in apple cider?  Pasteurization does not address that issue.  Only good IPM practices assure the cider is clean of pesticide residues.

In 2004, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health purchased pears and apple from us for testing of pesticide residues.   The inspector introduced himself while in our store and bought apples and pears from our shelves just like any other customer.   The results report stated that the testing was completed by the FDA’s laboratory, using the latest methods available for the detection of pesticides and pesticide residues.  The report stated that no pesticide residues were detected, in our fruit.   Although the FDA allows some pesticide residuals to be present, our fruit was residue free.  No pesticides detected.

The report made us very happy.  We practice IPM, Integrated Pest Management.  IPM in simple terms is the use of pesticides only when insects or fungal diseases are present.  We spray our orchards less and continue to find safer chemicals to use each year.  

What is the film on fruit?

We have been asked each year about the film found on the outside of an apple.  The public has wrongly identified this pectin film coating as spray residue.  It is in fact pectin.  A natural wax substance produced by the apple to protect the apple’s skin from insects and fungal diseases.   We hope that the report from the FDA labs will aid our customers in feeling better about the produce and cider they purchase from our farm store.

As a side note,…the CDC has recently reported in a report on food pathogens on produce, that an apples purchased from a grocery store, may have been handled by as many as 14 different people.  If you pick your own, you will be the first person to handle the fruit, and if you buy apples in our store, only one or two of our employees have handled the apples after going through our wash tank.

Our farm Turns 274 Years Old

This year 2012, our farm turned 279 years old.  The orchard operations is now 63 years old and our winery celebrates 13 years this year. (10 years open to the public).  Those of you who visit often have seen quite a few changes over the last few years, and we are still changing.

Remember.....The Blueberry Festival, August 13, 2005

Everyone that attended our festival had a great time despite the extreme heat.  Highs that day were at 94 degrees.  Between 125 and 150 brave souls ventured out to enjoy the bluegrass music with Orchard Grass and the Grass Routes.

The pie eating contest was a new addition and a huge success with three classes,
adult, teen and child. Enjoy the pictures.

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44 Old Worcester Road
Charlton, MA 01507
Phone (508) 248-7820