I'm craving fresh apple cider. I'll admit my heart had to be won over by a fruit that seemed to represent my parents longing for all things American while growing up in the Philippines. There, each apple arrived wrapped in a fitted foam sleeve. Each was crisp, imported and thus precious in a tropical landscape. I was surprised to later learn that the wild ancestors of this rose relative came from Western Asia. Like my parents, apples have traveled the world over and set new roots.
It's October, and the farm kitchen was engulfed with wave upon wave, and box after box of apples that folks scrambled to keep pace with. The scent of apples filled the air. Apple slices slowly dried slowly into thin shriveled skins, were transformed into sauce, cooked down into sweet butter, and pressed into cider. The orchard was home to a dizzying 200 apple varieties, and cider was a luxury that somehow brought together all the months of observing the orchard bloom pink and white, thinning out fruits by hand, and watching those left behind slowly grow sweet and heavy.
After living for a growing season surrounded by these trees, the taste of the untouched fresh stuff fulfills the same place in my belly that was usually reserved for young coconuts cracked straight from the tree.
Step one. Grow apples that taste like good healthy soil, sun and water.
Step two. Gather fallen fruits. If there's brown mushy spots or cracks, it's OK. No one has to know - this is cider after all. Don't be too selective, throw in what you have. Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Hudson's Golden Gem...those all found a way into the mix.
Step three. Press and drink. Even the bees and wasps will want a sip, so watch out for those. Share with someone you love.