Apple Cider: A Sure Marker of Fall

Our first post by our new contributor, Julie Christie, is also published in the Telegraph!

John Chapman, who is better known as Johnny Appleseed, was most famous for planting apple trees throughout America. However, the people who harvested the apples didn’t just use them in desserts such as apple turnover and apple pie. They used apples to make the most popular beverage of the day: apple cider.

Brookdale Fruit Farms and Lull Farm in Hollis have been producing apple cider for wholesale and retail for more than 30 years.

The apples that Brookdale collects for its cider consists of picked apples and “drops,” which are apples that have fallen off the tree. Even though the regular harvest of apples was decreased by the crazy weather in March, April and May, the amount of drops increased.

Brookdale’s close neighbor, Lull Farm, handpicks all of the apples used in its cider. Lull presses its cider right on the spot and sells cider only from its Hollis and Milford farm stands, so pasteurization isn’t required. In 1981, when Lull farm began pressing apples for the first time, it started with a 22-inch wooden press, but quickly upgraded to a stainless steel press.

Because the flavor of cider depends on the blending of juice from different apple varieties, Lull Farm will sometimes focus on one or two apple varieties so a specific flavor can be attained.

First, the apples are collected and cooled. Then, they’re ground up and pressed so that the cider comes out. The cider is cooled before it’s bottled and ready for sale.

It’s important to note that although apple cider and apple juice are made from apples, there is a difference. Apple cider hasn’t been filtered to remove the raw pulp or sediment, whereas apple juice has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. The pulp and sediment contains a lot of the healthy vitamins and minerals that are found in apple cider, but the vitamins have to be put back into apple juice.

Hollis elementary schools have realized the many health benefits and have decided to include local apple cider in the daily meal choice for students. So, not only are kids getting a delicious local addition to their lunches, they’re getting the health benefits of cider, as well.

As a seasonal treat, apple cider is enjoyed by all ages, and in many ways. Whether the drink is served piping hot or is mixed into treats such as apple cider donuts, people throughout the ages have enjoyed it and relied on it. The crisp, fresh flavor is only known to apple cider, and makes memories of fall for some, while bringing memories back for others.

In addition to enjoying apple cider as a drink, it’s a great ingredient for cooking, so consider using it in your baked goods, poultry, meats and more. A quick Internet search can turn up recipes for apple cider pancakes, caramels, custard and doughnuts, as well as ideas for chicken, pork and beef dishes.

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