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Lisa-Kristin Erdt

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

Remember our video series ‘To Market, We Go’, brought to you on Kitchen Stories by the kitchen experts at next125? United by our passion for making every cooking experience a unique one, together we’re visiting Europe’s very best markets to show you how to find, cook, and enjoy the very best produce back in your own kitchen. We’ve journeyed to France and to London, but this time we’re staying in Germany to explore the food culture at weekly markets and catch up with local producers. Watch episode three of our culinary journey through Berlin’s Markthalleand, below, take a sneak peak into the incredible produce this region has to offer.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Markthalle Neun, we were guided by our thirst (for knowledge, of course) and had to stop at the ‘Biokelterei Bergschäferei’ stand—a Märkische-Schweiz based company that produces fruit juices from their orchard's in-house organic wine press. No two juices are alike, because their range includes a variety of fruit combinations that change by the year, with every harvest. This is exactly what makes their apple juice unlike any other: aromatic, regional fruit grown with love each year and then freshly pressed for locals and the weekly markets.

The morning of our visit to the Bergschäferei organic wine press, we drove through the sleepy countryside, bathed in sunshine on this day. Uneven roads overlook the serene mountains, large meadows and small lakes which bring us to Müncheberg — an inconspicuous spot in the middle of Brandenburg, an hour's drive away from Berlin. As we pass through fields of woolly sheep, we’re welcomed by a large farm, where work is in full swing already despite the early hour.

Here, in the middle of the Schäferberg, lies the Bergschäferei organic wine press managed by Leonie, where both home-grown and regional organic fruit is processed into juice, which is then sold in Markthalle Neun, among other places. A quick look at the view and it’s easy to see why Leonie doesn't mind the commute between here and Berlin.

In addition to the sheep, tractors, and picturesque buildings, we spot a huge trailer carrying a red sea of too-perfect-to-eat apples. It opens up over a conveyor belt that goes into a building —the press—like out of a children’s story book.

Not too long ago, about a kilometer away, the apples were still hanging in the orchard. Quite a few trees there are remains from a trial project from about 70 years ago. This project was intended to test which apple varieties would grow best in this region and survive the weather conditions. What remained were over 100 different varieties of apples! This orchard is also home to other fruits like quinces, elderberries, a few pears, and some wild fruit varieties grow here too, which are also juiced and bottled up, along with the apples.

What makes the juice so unique? "We only use home-grown and organic fruit, which usually has a particularly intense aroma, that can't be missed. We then brainstorm and test new combinations for our juices. Personally, I like our classic apple juice the best, but apple-mint, beet with apple and rhubarb, and our quince cider are quite popular too,” explained Leonie.

Watch our video to drink in the scenery and take a look at the juice press at Schäferberg. Further down you can learn how the apple juice flows from the tree to the bottle. Watch our video to drink in the scenery and take a look at the juice press at Schäferberg. Further down you can learn how the apple juice flows from the tree to the bottle.

From farm to bottle: How Märkische Schweiz produces its trademark apple juice

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How are apples processed into apple juice?

As we walk into the press, the first thing that hits us is the scent of fresh apples. It is loud and rightly so, the press is in use. Before the juicing begins, the apples are cleaned on the conveyor belt with a hose to remove any dirt. Then, each apple is inspected and rotten apples are sorted out. The conveyor belt then transports them one by one into the apple press. Any residue from the juicing, like skin, stem, core and fibres are collected in containers. These make up for the nutritious treats for the sheep living on the farm—gourmet and zero waste!

After the apples have been pressed, the juice is filtered and then slightly heated to rid it of any bacteria. Depending on the variety, the amber-colored juice flows through hoses to find its way to respective tanks. These tanks then fill up 5-liter boxes or regular bottles, as required. With a lid and label on, the juice is ready for the markets...and for us. With all this observing and learning, we could not wait to finally taste the result!

As we wrap an apple juice tasting, the golden sun slowly settles behind the walls of Schäferberg. Leonie hands us a box with her favorite varieties, including apple with mint. As expected, we can’t decide which is ‘the best’ but the empty bottles speak for themselves.

We left the organic wine press with a few juice bottles in our car and the anticipation of tasting freshest quince cider, in two weeks time, directly at Markthalle Neun.

Our visit to the market is not over yet: In the next episode of our discovery tour through the markets of Europe with next125, we’ll share a recipe that uses the best of our finds.

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