By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
GREENFORD -- Matt Haus is trained to be an engineer, but to some, he's an artist.
His medium is apples, which are used to create the award-winning cider sold at the Haus Red Apple Orchard and Cider Mill, on West Calla Road in Green Township.
Haus and his wife, Cheryl, own and operate the mill.
Haus, who received a bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Arizona in 1975, and his wife recently entered a sample of their cider in the Ohio Fruit Growers Society 2001 cider contest. They have won seven awards for their cider since 1990, including an award of excellence in the 2000 contest. The Hauses also received a "cider of merit" award in a 1995 contest open to ciders created at mills throughout the Midwest.
To be announced: The winners in this year's contest will be announced in February.
"I think we've done pretty well with run-of-the-mill cider," Haus said, not noticing the pun.
He added that he thinks good cider is made of the proper blend of different apple varieties. Six varieties are used in the Haus cider.
Diane Miller, a specialist for tree fruits with the Ohio State University Extension's office in Wooster, noted that there is no one true recipe for making good cider.
"It's kind of an art," said Miller, who is helping to organize this year's cider contest. "Matt's got a real talent for that."
Family farm: The Hauses make their cider with apples picked from some of the 1,500 trees on their farm. The 25-acre farm has been in Haus' family since 1954, when his father, a Green Township native, bought it.
"We're a family operation; we've tried to keep it in the family," Haus said. He began operating the mill in 1982 after spending a few years working in industry. Haus said he returned to the mill because "Here, there's nobody to answer to but yourself."
The cider-making process at the Haus mill begins when apples are placed on a tray and inspected by hand. A 42-pound bushel of apples will create about four gallons of cider, Haus said.
Apples that pass inspection are washed and ground into pulp by a machine.
"A lot of the apples we run are probably a lot better than what you see in the supermarket," Haus commented.
How it's made: The pulp runs through a hose onto one of nine blankets, which are then placed on trays, stacked and crushed. Cider runs from the crushed apples into a holding tank below.
The holding tank chills the cider to just above freezing. Then it is placed in a pasteurizing machine and rapidly heated.
Cider flows from the pasteurizing machine into another holding tank, where it is rapidly chilled before being bottled for sale. A gallon of Haus cider costs $3.75 and is sold at the mill and at some local markets.
The entire cider-making process lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, Haus said. The Haus mill, which is open from May until the end of December, produces about 50,000 gallons of cider each year.
Haus noted that the cider sold to the public is no different from the cider entered in the state contests.
"The samples I sent out were right off the bottler," he said.