Feeling extra American this week? Wanna keep that post-turkey glow going? Well, how about a very American beverage: cider?
We’re not talking about the hot mulled stuff that steams up your kitchen, or the sweet pub draft in a pint glass. This cider is more like sparkling wine.
“This is a phenomenally funky, sour, even mildly smoky cider that has to be tasted to be believed,” says Greg Engert, one of the owners of a bar in Washington called ChurchKey. He’s pouring cider from a tall champagne-style bottle that retails for around $15.
ChurchKey is a bar known for beer, but on this night, lots of people are drinking cider.
Tom Diliberto has celiac disease, so beer is out for him. Cider, on the other hand, is gluten-free.
Cider is still a small part of the overall alcohol market, but it’s growing faster than any other category, according to Donna Hood Crecca, an adult beverage analyst with the company Technomic.
“In 2013, we’re projecting that we’ll end the year at 14 million cases,” she says.
Most of that comes from major beer makers that have jumped into the cider game. The companies that brew Sam Adams, Coors and Budweiser have all gotten into the apple fermenting business in the past couple of years.
But just as craft microbrews have taken root in the beer market, artisanal ciders are now growing in the shadow of the big guys.
Vintage Virginia Apples and Albemarle CiderWorks is just around the bend from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia. “If we were crows we’d get there very shortly, but it would take us probably 20 minutes by the way the roads go,” says Charlotte Shelton, who with her brothers grows some 200 varieties of rare American apples here — fruit with names like Ashmead’s Kernel, Arkansas Black, Burford Red Flesh and Geneva Crab.
America’s Founding Fathers grew some of these varieties, more often for drinking than for eating.
“We think Mr. Jefferson would’ve been proud to put this on the table,” says Charlotte.
While she works the finances, her brother Chuck Shelton turns the fruit into cider.
This whole cider thing started when the siblings gave their dad — who’s 93 now — an old hand-cranked cider press for Father’s Day years ago.
Today the hand crank is more for display. The real cider-making process is far more high-tech, similar to a winery, says Chuck.
The entrance to Albemarle CiderWorks in North Garden, Va.
To find out what it tastes like out of the bottle, we head to the tasting room.
Chuck pours a cider called “Jupiter’s Legacy,” which is named after one of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves, Jupiter Evans.
“Jupiter passed away I think in 1798, and things bad started happening with the cider,” explains Chuck. “They bottled too early, and bottles were exploding. So Jefferson wrote this letter saying, ‘You need to find someone with the skills necessary to take over the bottling, because we can’t have our cider crop exploding.’ … There’s a letter to that effect, and we call it ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’.”
The apples are sweet, but none of that sweetness comes across in the cider. All that yummy sugar in the fruit turns into yummy alcohol during the fermentation process.
“People come in here and haven’t had cider other than … commercial ciders, and they say, ‘Ooh,’ ” says Chuck. “They think it’s going to be sweet, and it’s not.”
I ask him: Do you get people walking out?
“No,” says Chuck. “Most people buy a bottle, at least.”
Thanksgiving Refreshment: What About Hard Cider?
As Faith reminded us a few weeks ago, hard cider was the true drink of the early American settlers. How appropriate for Thanksgiving! And as it so happens, we also think that hard cider would pair particularly well with the turkey and all our favorite Thanksgiving sides. Do you have a hard cider to recommend?The hard ciders we’ve tried all have a similar effervescent quality and slight sourness that really wake up our taste buds. When we’re eating a lot of rich and heavy foods, this is the kind of quality we want – something that freshens our palate and get us ready for the next bite of turkey with stuffing!
Ciders also tend to have a lot of caramel and fruit flavors that compliment the roasted flavors in the meat, the dried fruit in the stuffing, and the sweet flavors in all those Thanksgiving pies! They are also interesting and complex enough to enjoy on their own either before or after the meal.
With hard cider making a resurgence, we’ve had a lot of luck finding locally made bottles. Try to find a wine-seller that specializes in unique finds and ask if they have or could find you some local hard cider. Look for the word “dry” on the label – this will indicate a drink that is (theoretically) less sweet and more suited for drinking with meals.
We also recently tried an organic hard cider from Samuel Smith that we liked quite a bit. It was still rather sweet, but had a nice sour twang and a pleasant fizz on the tongue.
What hard ciders have you tried and liked recently?
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon cold
- 2½ pound pork loin roast, trimmed and tied
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
- 1 bottle, (12 ounces) ISLAND ORCHARD CIDER, plus more as necessary
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, to taste, and sear on all sides in the hot pan until golden brown; set aside. Add the onions and apples and season again with salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to caramelize, then pour in the ISLAND ORCHARD CIDER and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and nestle the browned pork roast back into the pan. Cover with a lid and put in the oven to braise until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the pork roast from the pot and transfer to a carving board; tent with foil to keep warm. Transfer the contents of the pot to a food processor or blender and puree, then return the puree to the pan. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, then reduce the heat to low and add more cider if gravy is too thick. Add the remaining tablespoon of cold butter, whisking constantly as it melts. Remove from heat when the gravy is smooth and shiny and the butter is completely melted.
- Slice pork loin roast and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with sauce and enjoy!
- 4 cups Wood's Cider Mill Boiled Cider
- 4 cups ISLAND ORCHARD CIDER
- 8 cups fresh apple cider
- 2 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ cup dark-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 gallon ice water
- 1 whole (10-to-12-pound) turkey, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 apples, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 1½ to 3 cups low-sodium store-bought chicken stock or broth, for basting
- Step 1: In a large stockpot, combine boiled cider, hard cider, fresh cider, 2 cups salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt dissolve, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add thyme, rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add ice water, stir, and let brine cool to room temperature.
- Step 2: Rinse turkey inside and out under cool running water. Remove giblets and neck; set aside for gravy or stuffing, if desired. Place turkey in a pot large enough to hold the turkey and the brine or a large, food-safe plastic bag, set in a pot or roasting pan. Cover turkey with brine, make sure both cavities of turkey are filled. Cover or tightly close bag and refrigerate 10 to 12 hours. If using a bag, rotate turkey occasionally to make sure it is evenly brined.
- Step 3: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Step 4: Remove turkey from brine and rinse well under cold running water; pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Place turkey, breast-side up, in a large, heavy-bottomed roasting pan fitted with a rack. Rub all sides with butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff turkey with apples, celery, and onion. Loosely tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine. Transfer to oven and roast until skin is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Step 5: Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Cover turkey loosely with a double layer of parchment paper-lined aluminum foil. Continue roasting, basting once every half hour with ½ to ¾ cup stock, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the largest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) registers 161 degrees, about 1 hour more.
- Step 6: Remove from oven and transfer turkey to a serving platter. Let turkey stand, tented with foil, about 20 minutes before carving.
Read about Wisconsin Cider Makers, including Island Orchard Cider, mentioned in the October 11, 2013 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“We thought this would be a perfect fit for the fruit we could grow in Door County,” Bob Purman said. “And surprising to say the least, but sales are going pretty fast.”
- 1 pound medium or sharp Cheddar, finely diced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups Island Orchard Cider
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¹⁄₈ teaspoon pepper
- sourdough, whole-grain, or rye bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Mix cheese and flour in a bowl. Combine apple cider and lemon juice in fondue pot. Bring to very low simmer; do not let it boil. Add a handful of cheese and stir constantly until the cheese is fully melted. Continue to add one handful of cheese, stirring constantly and melting the cheese fully before adding the next handful. After all the cheese is fully melted, stir in pepper.
- Serve fondue with a basket of cubed bread and long forks for dipping
- 8 cups apple cider
- 1 750 ml. bottle of dry hard cider (such as Island Orchard Cider)
- 3 12 oz. bottles of ginger beer (such as Reed's)
- 1½ cups whiskey (such as Jameson)
- Juice of one lemon
- Several dashes orange bitters
- 1 orange sliced into rounds, for garnish
- Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
- Combine the ciders, ginger beer, whiskey, lemon juice, and bitters in a large punch bowl or pitcher. Stir to combine. Top with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Ladle into ice-filled punch glasses.
Foodie magazine Edible Door features a full article on Island Orchard Cider in their Fall 2013 issue. Writer Katie Lott Schnorr discusses the history of cider, the inspiration for the business and the process of cider maker Bob Purman.
“We’re lucky to be able to do two full fermentations a year,” explains Bob, who enjoys how his work is dictated by nature’s calendar. “Making cider means living the daily process,” he says, whether that is experimenting with a new type of wild yeast, or focusing on what the orchard needs. Recently, Bob borrowed a few hives of bumblebees from a neighboring farmer, to be sure that his trees were being properly pollinated.
- 8 chicken tenderloins
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons butter, divided
- ½ cup chopped white onions
- 1 cup hard cider
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt and black pepper. Carefully avoiding spatter, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the hot skillet, and then brown the seasoned chicken for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a small roasting pan.
- Add the remaining butter to the pan, and allow it to melt. Sauté the chopped onions over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they become soft and slightly brown around the edges. Add the hard cider to the skillet and bring it to a boil for 4 minutes, making sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.
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