Emma is no run-of-the-mill lady, in fact – she runs the mill… literally.
Parmenter’s Cider Mill, in Michigan, is a picturesque, fall gathering place straight out of “Hocus Pocus.” Lines are long, cider is delicious and Halloween decorations have been ‘spared no expense.’ On these customer-infested fall days, Emma holds it down. Donuts are cranked out in epic proportions, fudge is cut and bagged and the ‘Nut Mill’ is doing what it does best – roasting hot nuts.
When an 8-year-old asks for a bag of ‘old donuts’ (to feed the ducks inhabiting the Cider Mill property) Emma is happy to oblige. This cider-slush slangin’ expert took time out of her busy day of murdering apples to discuss the cider mill lifestyle.
BOJ: How did you get involved in the cider mill business?
EK: Two of my mom’s sisters purchased Parmenter’s from a family friend a little over 20 years ago.
BOJ: What kinds of goodies can you find at your cider mill?
EK: Cider, donuts, hard cider (yum!), wine, apples, fudge, roasted almonds, caramel apples, preserves, honey, apple pies, pumpkin butter, apple butter, Halloween decorations, etc… We also have a lot of great Michigan made products including BBQ sauce and salsa.
BOJ: Can you explain the cider-making process?
EK: First, we sort and rinse the apples to ensure only clean and healthy apples make it into the cider. The cider is made using a machine called a press—and it does just that, “presses” the juice out of the apples. After, the juice is pasteurized, then bottled and stored in a large refrigerated room until it is sold fresh.
BOJ: What can you tell us about your donut making process?
EK: We sell two types of donuts: spice and plain. Both donuts start with the same vanilla cake base, but special ingredients are added to just the spice donut batter. Parts of the mixing process can get pretty technical. For example, the water that is added into the donut batter must be at a specific temperature. The batter is poured into a machine that “punches” four circles of dough into hot grease. We fry our donuts in soy. After the donuts are fully cooked, they are cooled, sugared (for spice only), bagged, and sold.
BOJ: When is it officially “Cider Mill” season?
EK: We are open between Labor Day weekend and the weekend before Thanksgiving.
BOJ: Why is cider mill cider better than cider from a super market?
EK: Our cider is über fresh! We are constantly pressing cider, so it is always sold extremely fresh. Also, we don’t add a single thing in to our cider besides apples, so it is all natural, and only contains sugar that is naturally occurring in the apples.
BOJ: What is your favorite cider mill treat?
EK: A cider slush, hands down. I seriously cannot get enough of them!
BOJ: Any tips for cider mill goers to avoid lines, get the best bang for their buck or improve their overall experience?
EK: There is definitely more to experience if you visit the cider mill on a busy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but the amount of people can be overwhelming. To avoid long lines, visit the cider mill during the week. We are open until 8 pm and there is rarely a line. Some tips and tricks? Opt for the half-gallon of cider over the quart—it is only a dollar more but contains twice the cider! Ask for duck donuts. We hand out our stale donuts to patrons, free of charge, so that they can feed the ducks out back.