See the Good in All We Make – Tree Top Apple Juice from bloom to bottle
STEP 1. SELECT THE PERFECT MIX OF U.S. APPLE VARIETIES: Making a great apple juice requires the right selection of fruit we control from bloom to bottle. Apple varieties are different from one another and in the United States there are more than 2,500 varieties. No matter the variety we’ve chosen, you can be assured it was grown in the United States by one of our growers we know and trust. We carefully select our apple varietal blend for the right balance between sweet and tart for a refreshing and delicious apple taste families prefer.
As a cooperative of growers with the majority of our orchards in Washington state renowned for its apples, we believe it’s the fertile hills and valleys and excellent growing climates in the Pacific Northwest that allow us to grow the best apples and in turn produce some remarkable premium apple juice.
STEP 2. GET APPLES FROM FARM TO BOTTLE QUICKLY: During apple harvest each year, Tree Top’s juice production is at its peak. We receive fresh fruit from at our strategically located facilities in central Washington from more than 900 of our apple growers and their warehouses in the region. From mid-September through December we operate around the clock to bottle as much pure juice and concentrate as possible.
To maintain apple freshness until we can get to every bin, controlled atmosphere storage is used. Controlled atmosphere storage simply suspends the apples in a state of freshness by “putting them to sleep” with reduced temperatures and controlled oxygen levels until they are ready for our growers to delivery to the fresh market (grocery stores, etc.) or to us for pressing into juice or making into fruit ingredients. The ability to receive fresh fruit year around allows us to maintain enough juice production throughout the year to meet customer demand.
During juice production, special trucks capable of hauling stacked apple bins arrive continually to our weigh-in and inspection stations where every bin is accounted for and reviewed by a quality control expert. After passing inspection, bins of apples are then sent to our juicing plant where they are unloaded for sorting and several rounds of cleaning before the juice making begins.
STEP 3. WASH, WASH, WASH and Again: Fifty tons of apples every hour are washed in a huge rotary drum. The four-stage wash includes banks of high-pressure nozzles that help make the fruit squeaky clean.
STEP 4. CHOP, SPIN and DECANT: A conveyor moves the fruit to the disintegrator, which is much like a large and powerful blender. Here the apples are broken into small pieces under the force of whirling, half-inch-thick blades. Reduced to bite-sized fragments, the apples are then conveyed by auger and pump to the decanter.
The decanter is where juice is separated from solids. Here a powerful centrifuge spins the pieces at a dizzying 4,000 revolutions per minute, generating a force 4,000 times greater than gravity. As the juice is separated, the solids are extracted from the decanter in a multistage process. After additional processing, the remaining fruit solids are sold for a variety of uses, including food ingredients for human consumption and feed for cattle. There is virtually no waste from Tree Top’s processing system.
The Juice is clarified in a second centrifuge, this one turning at 6,500 RPM and 5,000 Gs. Suspended solids remaining in the juice are removed through microfiltration as the fluid is pumped through a series of ceramic membranes. Juice clarification is a multi-stage process. During each of many steps, suspended fruit solids are extracted until what remains is pure, cloudless, amber-colored juice.
STEP 5. HEAT and BOTTLE NOT-FROM-CONCENTRATE JUICE: At this stage we pasteurize using high heat for food safety and either bottle our delicious “Not From Concentrate” juice or make the product into concentrate for blending at a later to demanding Tree Top Standards.
STEP 6. CONCENTRATE FOR LATER BLENDING and BOTTLING: The blending process to make From Concentrate apple juice is very precise and tightly controlled. Computers monitor flows and measure concentrate volume by weight. These steps are critical in assuring that the great taste of Tree Top never varies from container to container. In the blender, a sweep agitator reunites the basic components of apple juice: concentrate, essence, and water.
Exacting quality control standards assure batch-to-batch consistency within one percent. Sugar-to-acids ratios, color, and pH are measured objectively. Our juice craftsman play an important role in tasting the product assuring Tree Top quality. Every batch of Tree Top apple juice is sampled by a trained taster before it goes in a bottle. Product purity and shelf stabilization are assured by sterilizing and pasteurizing at 180 degrees. Consumer safety is assured through tamper-evident closures.
Our juice, is packaged in a variety of packages from individual serving boxes found throughout the U.S. in the foodservice industry or larger multi-serve bottles found in retail stores throughout the western United Stated and selected international markets.
OTHER FUN FACTS ABOUT JUICE: Concentrate is produced in an evaporator where steam heat and a vacuum remove much of the water. The result is apple juice seven times the strength of original juice.
Essence, or flavor of the juice is made by distilling the juice in a separator. The liquid is vaporized, then recondensed as a clear fluid which is used later when we make our From Concentrate apple juice. A single gallon of essence provides flavor for 150 gallons of single strength apple juice.
It’s take approximately 22 apples to produce just one bottle of our premium 64 ounce apple juice.
See the Good in All We Make – Tree Top Apple Sauce recipe is reminiscent of homemade
Not all things named apple sauce or applesauce are equal – even how people choose to spell it! After decades of consumer taste panel research we think we’ve perfected the perfect recipe that most people prefer. Tree Top found people expect a naturally sweet, full-flavor product with a texture made of both small and large apple particles (grains), so it’s reminiscent of an apple sauce made at home. We’re happy to share our process for great apple sauce here:
STEP 1. SELECT THE PERFECT MIX OF APPLE VARIETIES: Making a great apple sauce like grandma’s starts with the right selection of fruit. Apple varieties are different from one another and in the United States there are more than 2,500 varieties. We choose Golden Delicious for a light color and good, large grain texture, Gala for a rounded flavor, and Rome Beauty (of which ours are grown almost exclusively for the apple sauce business) for its very smooth texture. We blend our three primary apple choices with a few others, notably Honeycrisp apples, for texture and a great flavor our customers have come to expect.
STEP 2. RIPEN THE APPLES: Once we have the correct selection of apple varieties, we ripen the fruit to make sure we’ve developed both the flavor and the condition of each apple to the point we know it will make a great apple sauce. Ripening in this case is simply holding the fruit at a relatively warm temperature to get each lot of apples to the condition we want.
STEP 3. WASH, CRUSH, STRAIN and BLEND: Once our select variety of apples ripen they move on to our giant kitchen (our production facility) where we combine the ripened fruit in the right ratios and wash them until they shine. We then split the fruit stream sending roughly half to make the large grain apple sauce, and the other half to make the smooth grain apple sauce. In each case, the apples are crushed before we add a small amount of vitamin C to help keep the pulp light colored. The apple pulp is then sieved thru a machine that acts like a continuous colander or ricer. It’s fairly easy to make the smooth textured sauce by using very small holes in the machine called a finisher because it gives us the desired “finish”. The large grained apple sauce is a bit trickier because large holes in a finisher lead to large pieces of the core or skin in the apple sauce. For large grain sauce we use a piece of equipment that very gently smears the pulp of the apple away from the skin and core, giving us the large grain apple sauce while leaving behind the peel and core. The two streams of sauce, fine textured and coarse textured, are then mixed and on to the next step of the process.
STEP 4. COOK TO AVOID FLAVOR LOSS: Before packaging the raw apple sauce is cooked, but unlike cooking in a pot on top of a kitchen stove, we use indirect heat to avoid flavor loss. The cooking softens the blend, helps release any air, and stops the natural tendency for the apple sauce to turn brown. The relatively unique method of using indirect heat is similar to pumping the apple sauce through a coil of pipes in a pot of boiling water. By doing it this way, there is no loss of the flavor notes that would be lost if we were to cook in an open kettle, or by injecting steam into the apple sauce. Many other companies cook the sauce by steam injection, which not only cooks off the flavor notes we’re trying to save, but also adds quite a bit of water to the apple sauce.
STEP 5. PACKAGE UP FOR CONVENIENCE: Now it’s on to any number of packaging lines, including single serve pouches, cups, multi-serve jars, and even 50 or 250 gallon aseptic bags for the food service industry.
FINAL STEP. ENJOY!! We’ve shared our secret (well all but the exact blend of apple varieties from our growers’ orchards) used to make great tasting apple sauce generations of customers have enjoyed.
We hope you think it’s the next best thing to homemade goodness because we believe Everyone Deserves Good Food!