by Hannah Mangum
My interviewee was Mr. Fred Williamson, who is a homesteader in Crozet, VA. His passion is making Hard Cider using an antique cider press. Through our interview we were introduced to the art of Hard Cider Making and gained an appreciation for his craft through his passion.
Mr. Williamson first showed us how his hard cider press worked, the various parts of it, and how each mechanism worked to mash up local apples into a pulp. The pulp is then strained and the juice collected for making Hard Cider. He also described the types of apples that he uses, and gets his various apple varieties from Henley’s Orchard in Crozet, VA.
Finally, Mr. Williamson described the cider making parties that he hosts throughout the year with friends and family. He started by inviting the other homeschooled families that he knew when homeschooling his own children, and slowly grew a network of families to invite. Now, he ends up inviting sixty to seventy people to his parties.
This piece of local food knowledge matters because of the passion and community it invokes in those who participate in antique hard cider making. Hearing Mr. Williamson’s dedication and interest in his craft made me want to participate, learn, and enjoy his craft. It also ties into the history of Central Virginia, and the importance of hard cider in our local area. Mr. Williamson’s story about Johnny Appleseed and people in colonial times being able to trust hard cider but not water (which could be contaminated) reminded us of its history.
Finally, his craft illustrates how an interest in local food heritage can bring people together. From what he tells us of his parties, they are very beloved get-togethers that create memories and bonds within their community. At the end of our interview he told us that his kids want to continue the tradition of antique hard cider making as a result of their fond memories with the craft.