By Åsa H. Aaberge | Photos: Karl-Kristian Muggerud
Freshly pressed, raw and clean – the apple juice from Fiskum Fruktpresseri is an outcome of nature’s wonders enhanced by a unique bond of three generations.
In the east of Norway, in the village of Fiskum, lies the Stavlum family farm. For generations dating back to the 19th century, sweet, aromatic, juicy apples have grown in sunny, lush conditions at the farm, and the family legacy now lives on for the outside world to taste in a newfound, bottled, fluid form.
At the helm at Fiskum Fruktpresseri (meaning ‘fruit press’) is Tone Muggerud. Her family has always been close, but it was only a few years ago that they started fresh pressing the apples at the family farm, and three generations became business partners too. “Our farm has been a small-scale fruit farm for generations, growing plums and apples. However, regulations demanding picture-perfect apples for distribution in stores forced us to rethink our farming,” says Muggerud.
“As we barely use pesticides on our fruit, our apples sometimes come out wonky, meaning we can’t sell them all to supermarkets. In 2012, we started pressing and juicing the apples, making and distributing raw and clean apple juice without substitutes,” she explains.
The Fiskum Fruktpresseri was born, created as a shared initiative between the extended family to create a viable business. Their main goal is to make apple juice that conveys the taste of freshly picked apples. The family includes Muggerud and her husband, their two sons and her parents, her sister and her sons. Everyone, aged 25 to over 70, works together when the harvest starts in the early autumn. The apples are handpicked, washed by hand and then immediately pressed and juiced on the spot. At this point, the juice is also bottled, labelled and distributed to nearby restaurants and shops in the surrounding area. Customers are also welcome to stop by the farm and buy freshly squeezed juice directly from them.
Throughout every part of the process, a family member is involved: from pruning the trees and picking the ripe apples to pressing flavourful juice and running the finances and marketing. “Our apple juice is a result of us playing as a team with nature and putting our pride in this craft,” says Muggerud.
Awards and quality stamps of approval
The fruit trees grow in long rows in sunny conditions in the village of Fiskum in the eastern Norwegian region of Eker. Both Norway generally and the Eiker area specifically have long traditions of farming. Notably, fruit and berry farming is common. Apple varieties that are robust and able to cope with the harsh northern climate with its unstable, long winters thrive here. According to local history, Eiker has been an area known for agriculture for 1,000 years.
“The great, sunny conditions in summer and pristine, mineral soil give the apples a unique taste. We grow the apple varieties Discovery, Aroma and Gravenstein. Notably, the Gravenstein apples have found appreciation and recently gained the Norwegian Speciality Marking,” says Muggerud.
The Speciality Marking is an official mark for Norwegian produce, aimed at promoting local food and drink and making it easier for consumers to source quality products in shops. It is a prestigious mark to gain, and the producer has to meet high standards, explains Muggerud.
She describes the Gravenstein apple juice as full-bodied, with rich sweetness, discreetly sharp, full of character and with a long aftertaste. But Gravenstein is not the only star of Fiskum Fruktpresseri. Earlier this year, the juice presser won the award for the best beverage of the year in 2021 in the national contest Det Norske Måltid (‘The Norwegian Meal’). The award praises the best Norwegian food and drinks.
The juice from the Discovery apples took Fiskum Fruktpresseri to the top of the contest. The jury’s motivation went: “The winning product has a high taste concentration, smells fresh, and has a good concentration of sweetness. The acid from the apples is well balanced. The winning product gives a fresh mouthfeel. The apple aroma is clean and clear, and the drink has a nice character. Here we have made a real discovery!”
Muggerud and her family are humbled and grateful for the recognition. “We experience that more and more people buy and appreciate unfussy local produce. That means a lot. The awards and interest from the local community are rewards for our hard work. It means a lot to the whole family and is touching to think about how we work together to create a juice we are proud of. We have built this stone by stone for generations, and hopefully many more to come,” Muggerud concludes.
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