Tritts / Higy Cider Mill
Tritts Mill was built in 1836 by Mr. Brewster. Joseph Tritt subsequently acquired the mill and continued producing flour. In 1900, the owner installed an 1898 cider mill and powered it with a wooden waterwheel. In 1911, the Higy family purchased the mill. Today the mill is owned and operated by a grandson and his wife, Chuck and Anita Higy. Chuck started working in the mill with his father, Lee, around 1970. Chuck's Father started working with his father around 1940. Today, they produce over 17,000 gallons of apple cider each year. Locally, the cider is a favorite. The Higy Cider is also sold nationally.
The mill is open for visitors to witness the apples as they tumble up the elevator and are dropped into a macerator that turns the apples into pulp. Once the apples are grated the pulp drops down through a shoot onto a cheese. A cheese is a wooden tray lined with material to hold the pulp. The apple pulp is placed in 12 layers before it goes into the press. To get these layers of pulp prepared for the press, a flat oak rack with open slats is put down on the preparation end of the press. Then a 3" tall wooden rack is placed on the flat rack. The cheese (made out of dacron material) is then laid across the rack. The macerator is directly above the rack and the shoot drops the pulp onto the rack. The amount of pulp is monitored by a drawstring on the shoot. The pulp is pulled around the rack with a hoe to fill the box frame. When the frame is full of pulp, the cheesecloth is then folded over to cover the apple pulp. Once covered with the cheesecloth, the oak rack box is removed. Another flat oak rack with slats is placed on the full square of pulp and the process is repeated 10 to 12 times.
Once the preparation for the press is complete, the entire press swings around and the layers of apples are then placed in the press. There are stainless steel troughs that catch the apple juice as it drains from just the weight of the layers of racks. When the press begins squeezing the juices from the apples, the juices flow through the catch trays into a refrigerated container or into receptacles that local farmers bring with them on their trucks to sell locally. While the press is functioning, another rack of apples is being prepared for the press. There is a lever that rises indicating when the press is finished. When the lever rises and another rack of apples is ready, the entire press again swings around. The prepared racks go to the press side and the spent apples are brought to the preparation side. The top oak rack is removed and the cheese with the left over apple remains is removed. The remains are called pummies. There is a truck that sits outside the elevated room where the press is and the pummies are discarded into a truck and a local farmer uses them to feed hogs. This situation benefits Higys as well as the farmer. Higy's don't have to pay to have the pummies dumped, and the farmer gets food for his pigs. Everyone wins!
The pummies that are feed to the pigs don't even look like apples. The pummies look like a dry white blob of fibrous material. It is so dry that when a piece is broken you can see the layers of the fibrous material. There is virtually no moisture left in the pummies. The entire room has a sweet aroma of apples, but there is nothing sweeter than the smell of the pummies.
Each press takes about 45 minutes. One hundred bushels of apples yield about 350 gallons of apple cider. This requires two presses. Each bushel yields about 3 1/2 gallons of cider. Red delicious apples are juicier. Quantity of yield depends upon the apple.
If the cider is sealed and remains cold it will last seven days. Once opened it will last about five days. There are no preservatives in the cider, just apples. Anita Higy said the best cider is when a blend of apples is used.
The Higy Cider Mill begins operation as soon as the crop is ready, which is usually around the first of September. Their season extends anywhere from the end of December to the end of April. The length of their season is dependent upon the quantity of the apple crop.
The cider mill operation is fascinating because the press is an 1898 vintage piece of equipment and because the press is powered by a water turbine that is located on the north side of the mill. The water is channeled into the mill from Tritts Millpond. The millpond is created by a dam at the mill site on the Tuscarawas River. The turbine transfers the energy with one drive shaft connecting the flywheel and a series of 6 belts up one level to the gears that power the press. The vertical torque of the turbine is turned horizontal with gears directly above the turbine. An 8" belt transfers the power about 15' to the main line shaft in the basement of the mill. This 25' long line shaft has a large flywheel and many small wheels that were used to power the rest of the flour operations before the conversion to a hardware store in the 1940's. The last wheel on the line shaft has a belt that drives the upper line shaft that powers the cider press. Another interesting feature of this shaft is that it is the original line shaft that was once powered by a waterwheel. On the far right hand end of the shaft the pinion gear is still attached. The foundation reveals where the waterwheel was mounted and attached to the line shaft and gear. The waterwheel was replaced with the turbine around 1912.
The Tritts Mill is certainly one of the most exciting functioning old mills left in the United States today. Visitors to the Higy Cider Mill are fortunate to have the opportunity to witness the water-powered 1898 cider press. The experience is worth the trip from anywhere in the world. It is guaranteed that you will not be disappointed. Call Higy Hardware in Akron, Ohio, to verify that they will be pressing on the day you intend to visit. You will also be rewarded with not only the old mill building and cider press, but the millpond created by the dam at the site is also impressive. Don't miss this one!
DIRECTIONS: Summit County. Springfield Township. From Akron at S.R. 224 and S.R. 241, take S.R. 241 south 2 miles, at Mayfair Road, on the Tuscarawas River, (2475 Massillon Road).
Top of Page