At the juice presses, the real working year began in mid-September. There are no queues in Panevėžys this year, but the doors of many are locked.
Vitalijs Pranskunas, head of the Panevis branch of the mobile juicer “Obulis Namai” operating at the end of Klaipeda Street, is surprised that such a late juicing season has never happened before. Usually already on September 5, and sometimes from the second half of August, the presses simply did not have time to spin.
“We should get more apples this year than last year. A good harvest is probably only in Oukatytija, as far as I have heard, there are no apples in the Alytus region. But now, the beginning is very difficult for us. “Most people come to ask when the juicing season ends,” says V. Pranskunas.
Bad weather on the weekend or the city’s birthday, when Panevezys people are in a hurry to celebrate instead of going to the orchards, they feel that apple growing is hindered.
A press representative hopes to have more work done by the weekend.
“Many people complain that many apples are spoiled or rotten. And the apples are small this year, but mainly, they are not yet ripe. And I have not seen well-ripened ones, you can say, they are all damaged. If frosts do not cause surprises, we expect that the juicing period will last until November and the peak will be in October. V. will not rule it out.
Tastes don’t change
Juice lovers will have to open their wallets wide this year. Due to the jump in electricity prices, printers in Panevėžys increased their service by approximately 20-30 cents per package. The most popular three-liter pack with tap now costs 2.5 euros and a five-liter pack costs 2.8 euros.
The people of Panevėžys traditionally squeeze juice not only from apples, but also from other garden and vegetable products. The recipes of the most popular juices do not change: apple juice is flavored with carrots, pumpkins, grapes, raspberries, sometimes oranges or rare ingredients: beetroot, zucchini or grapefruit.
“The juice thickens the pears, but they should not be multiplied, because the shelf life of the juice is short. Pears are a natural sweetener, and this year apples, strawberries, cherries and other goodies are more acidic. Carrots also add sweetness, but they should be very clean, as sold in stores. Pumpkin should also be cut and seedless.” That V. Prancekunas said.
Worst year ever
Julija Lukoseviciene, owner of a juice press operating in Molainai village, said due to the rise in electricity and packaging prices, she had to raise her prices as well – by twenty cents per pack.
“Electricity, packaging, fuel are more expensive, we don’t count on labor anymore, because we work ourselves. But we can’t raise prices too much, it’s important to pay the increased cost,” said J. Lukosevicien said.
The only problem is the lack of customers. Such is the volume of work that the press only works for a few hours a day. According to J. Lukoševičienė, in the eight years he has been developing this activity, there have never been such bad years.
There weren’t even any summer apples this year, but I don’t know if it was because they didn’t ripen or because people realized that summer apple harvest juice was completely unsuitable.
“At that time there was usually a big rush, we didn’t have time to turn around. And now we receive another customer who wants to prepare for the juice winter”, said J. Lukoševičienė.
According to the entrepreneur, the harvest of the orchards is very late, and the apples are small, scabby and split. These are not suitable for eating or drying, only for juicing.
True, the juice flows well.
She thinks nature did most of the work: the spring was cold and rainy, so the bees didn’t have time to pollinate the flowers.
“We have been working since the eighth year, so I can say that this year is a bad season. And in my own garden, the apples are not yet ripe. It is the same ‘Axis’ – usually at this time we have already harvested, and now the apple is firmly on the branch, even to pick it. Impossible – it is torn with all the leaves”, said the owner of the juice press.