Mass.

Apple Cider

One of the things I always like about the fall in Massachusetts is the apple harvest time.   The little town of Colrain in North Central MA hosts Cider Days  http://www.ciderday.org/ on the first weekend in Nov.   A lot of orchards get together and have cider and apple products for sale and there are several talks  making Hard cider, as well as some tastings of homemade and commercial cider.

The area is great - here is a view from one orchard - Apex

Orchard View

Orchard View

You can see the Sprinter there - although we didn’t camp, we took the van to bring back 55 gallons of cider.    Four of us decided to get together and put that cider into a rum barrel with 30# of honey and a little yeast and an airlock.  We should have some good cider by April or May. 

Cider is very easy to make, the real trick is getting a good blend of apples, and Pine Hill Orchard (among others) makes up some special blends for making hard cider.  The late season apples seem to make a better cider than the  the earlier ones.  In general terms, a cider blend shold have some sweet, some aromatic, some bittersharp, and possibly even a few crab apples in the blend.

There are some apples that are cultivated with hard cider in mind, Winesap (as you might guess by the name), Golden and Roxberry Russets, English Kingston Black, and Tollman Sweet come to mind.  I have had very few ciders made from a single variety of apples that I considered really good, and both were made from pro cidermakers in that area.

We grow several apples at home and press our own cider for sweet and hard cider.  Here is one of our Winesap trees.   They do well here, but  are usually thought of as an apple for south of here.

Winesap
Winesap

They keep well and are also a nice apple for baking pies, etc.