The Apple Project: Drink-Up to Save Farms

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Image taken from iFood TV

Farms everywhere are struggling to survive. Faced with the mounting challenges of increased production costs, global competition, and encroaching development, it’s getting harder and harder for farmers to make a profit. Apple growers are not immune from these pressures.  Glynwood has been hard at work trying to find economic opportunities for Hudson Valley apple growers, and thus the Apple Project was born. Their solution? Forget eating an apple a day, how about drinking several, preferably in the delicious form of hard cider or apple spirits.

Glynwood’s Apple Project is encouraging diversification of apple varieties, giving growers new resources for knowledge and skill, and supporting a growing market for hard cider and apple spirits. Some of its programs include Cider Week,  Apple Exchange, and the Hudson Valley Cider Route.

October 16 to 23 will be the first ever Cider Week. Over 80 establishments in New York City and the Hudson Valley will feature ciders from all over the Hudson Valley.  There will be plenty of opportunity to learn more at tastings, classes, and special events.  A great excuse to celebrate fall, farmers, and local food with a nice glass of cider.

I had the pleasure of meeting two cider makers, Eve’s Cidery and Farnum Hill Ciders, and sampling their wares this past week. They were delicious, flavorful, complex, and no two ciders I tasted were alike.  Good cider is not sugary sweet  instead it is dry or off dry and has a good balance of fruit, acid and bitter flavors.

I was surprised to learn great apple cider comes from apples one wouldn’t necessarily want to eat.  For instance, some apples with names Medaille d’Or or Yarlington Mill contain high tannins, which on their own would make your cheeks pucker and your eyes water. When a variety apples are blended (an art form, really) the result is wonderful, the sum is most definitely greater than its parts.

Growing a diversity of cider apples gives a bit of extra protection to the farmer in case one or more variety of apple is lost to pests or microbes. Instead of losing a whole crop and a seasons worth of income, the cider recipe changes a little.  Also growing apples for cider or spirits gives the grower a much higher profit margin, and they don’t have to worry if the apples look pretty.

Fun Facts About Cider

  • Cider is an alcoholic beverage fermented from apples, just like wine is fermented from grapes. Cider and wine making have a lot in common.
  • Cider, though often sold in a six-pack, sometimes carbonated, and golden, is not like beer at all. There is no grain, no malt, and no cooking.
  • Ciders can range from sweet to dry, bubbly or not, and some are more tannic, like red wine. The more tannic ciders are best served at red wine temperatures, 50-60F.

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