Apple Cider

Apple cider is my favorite fall drink.

Apple cider is my favorite fall drink. Unlike the pasteurized "cider" you can buy in stores, or the filtered apple juice, I am talking about the genuine stuff: freshly pressed apples from local orchards and the rich sediment that comes with it (always shake before pouring).

The taste of apple cider has stayed with me since my first experience drinking it in 1971. We were driving home from Charleston, South Carolina, and stopped at a fruit stand in Tennessee to buy a few gallons. My brother was stingy with it and only let me have a cup, but that was enough to start the craving.

Apple cider was the drink of choice in early colonial times. Most farms had an apple orchard and made hard cider from the bountiful apple harvests. There is an interesting article on the history of apple cider that I found online.

For years, Pettengill Fruit Farms made the best apple cider around, but one fall they didn't have any for sale. When I asked why, Mr. Pettengill told me that the government had put restrictions on raw cider and raw milk, and he couldn't afford the pasteurization equipment. It was ridiculous!

Years later, I asked his daughter what the secret variety of apples they used to make the cider. She surprised me with the answer: a mix of two-thirds Red and Golden Delicious apples, and one-third Jonathan apples. I planted one of each tree in my garden, but before they could produce any fruit, a herd of marauding goats ate the bark off the trees and they died. My dream of pressing my apple cider was over.

But I never gave up on finding good apple cider. I eventually found Paradise Valley Orchard, where I have been buying cider for the past few decades. The orchard is under new ownership this year, but the new owners, the Clawsons, are very nice and have supplied me with 10 gallons of cider. I will miss the previous owners, the Harrisons, but I am grateful to still enjoy this delicious fall drink.