Rufino Sagardotegia
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The production process of the cider begins in the wide apple orchards that the family owns all around the cider house. Thanks to the nearness of these, the process goes really fast from the apple trees to the machines to start doing it. The apple orchards have been extended year to year, trying to use the majority of the apples we need from home. In those, we can find different varieties of apple from the Basque Country like "Urtebi" and "Txalaka" for example.

Apart from our own apples, we usually buy them to the farmers from the towns around Hernani (Oiartzun and Andoain for example) among others. We give a lot of importance to the raw material that we use, and it is necessary to emphasize that the one we find in the zone is of the highest quality.

The apple trees are in flower usually in April, but we will not find the apple in the tree until September-October, depending on the weather is doing during the year. Those last months we are talking about are the hardest ones of the year because we have to press the apples and fill all the Barrels. In this time of the year it is usual to contract people to be able to make correctly the production process. In our house, the apples are picked up in the traditional way, one by one, with the basket and the collector of the whole life called "Kizki". After collecting all the apples, we stack up them outside the cider house before the process begins.

As we said before, we always try to use the apples that are autochthonous from the Basque Country, but when it is not possible, we have some suppliers from Galicia and Asturias, and we usually bring the raw material from them.

As soon as the apples are gathered, they are piled up in the production zone placed in the back part of the hamlet. As we said before, the process since they are in that zone to the production of it is really fast, passing a really short amount of time.

The first step, once the apples are out of the sacks in the production zone, the raw product goes into a process of cleanliness of water, taking off from them the whole dirt that they bring from the field. In this way, the raw material comes in the ideal conditions for the production of it and the machine does not have any stop.

Later, the apples are carried to a different zone where they are cleaned intensively. After this one, they go directly to the quality selection conveyor, where there are selected one by one the apples that are in conditions for the production of cider.

Once in the quality selection conveyor, we leave aside the apples that are not in conditions or are rotten. In this one, three person put their eyes to check all the apples and to take away the bad ones. After this phase, the product goes directly to the crusher machine, reaching to put the apples in small pieces for a major performance of the raw material.

After this, it comes one of the last steps of the production process. The crushed apples go to the press, where they are compressed taking out of them the whole juice. Until few years ago, the cider was done by using the traditional press, the one used the whole life, but with the creation of the pneumatic presses, we started using it these thanks to his rapidity, efficiency and quality of his extracted juice. Nowadays, the old press is only used in emergency situations, when we have too much apples to elaborate in the production zone or in case the breakdown of the pneumatic new one.

The juice that is extracted with the pneumatic press, goes directly to the barrels to start the last phase, the process of fermentation of the cider. In this ones, the cider stays approximately four months reaching all its properties, and for middle-end of January the cider is ready to taste it. In these months is when people came to our house to taste the ciders of the year while they have a delicious dinner composed by the traditional menu.

The cider that is not consumed in Txotx season, is bottled to sell it to the people during the year.