When autumn in New England is in full swing, our lives are awash in cider. The days in our small orchard fall into a rhythm: a few days of picking apples and putting them into 600-pound bins, and then a few days spent squeezing those apples on a century-old Mt. Gilead hydraulic apple press. It’s hard work, noisy, and fragrant with apple spray — it’s sensory overload, but in the best possible way. The juice that flows into the holding tanks will be an integral part of our whole year, the nectar of our labor that’ll nourish our family and customers.
Jonathan and I started our cider orchard on land that has been growing apples since the mid-1800s. We’re a no-spray orchard and farm, and because our fruit is destined for the press and not a fruit basket, we’re less concerned with cosmetic appearance, and instead we’re obsessed with juice quality. We have lower yields than conventional growers in the area, but we’re committed to growing food that causes no harm to our land, our friends and neighbors, and the environment as a whole — and we’ve noticed that our low-input approach in the orchard produces apples with a higher concentration of sugars. We call that a win!
Our lives as growers and producers might feel concentrated during the fall, but it’s a full calendar year endeavor, with each season having its unique and important jobs and rewards. Of course, the biggest reward, regardless of the season, is the food and drink we enjoy. Cider, in its many guises, threads its way through the entirety of the year, and sharing all we’ve learned and developed is possibly one of the most fun parts of our work. We sell our ciders and cider-based pantry products at farmers markets, online, and in shops across the country, and we talk to a lot of people about eating and drinking — a favorite thing in life for most of us. It’s nice to share that commonality with all sorts of people.
We’re incredibly excited to share our collection of recipes in our book, Ciderhouse Cookbook. Some of the recipes are old favorites, some are newly developed, and some are from my sister, Andrea, who’s a professional cook in California. In addition to being a celebration of cider — from fresh, to fermented, to boiled, to acetified — we hope it exemplifies the simple, honest way we like to cook, and that it also inspires people to make their own food to nourish their loved ones.
- Cider Syrup (a.k.a. Boiled Cider) Recipe
- Winter Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Chard Recipe
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Garlic, Cider Syrup, and Dates Recipe
- Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls Recipe
Excerpted from Ciderhouse Cookbook © by Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum, with Andrea Blum; photography © by Colin Price and © by Mars Vilaubi; used with permission from Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: Ciderhouse Cookbook.