Monday, September 27, 2010

Mulling over Cider.

     Living in Vermont, I have had the pleasure of enjoying the best cider on the planet.  Orchards are common here, and weekends are spent picking apples, eating cider donuts and of course having hot mulled cider.  Autumns in Vermont are unlike any place in the world.  The trees are ablaze with color, the grand  finale of fall has begun, the transition of summer to winter is taking place, the days are noticeably shorter and the air has become crisper, skies turn grayer, turning people inward to their homes to nest. Autumns are in a sense melancholy, kids are back to school and the activities of the summer seem to fade like fireflies. One by one the trees signal their betrayal, everyday there is a little less green.  Pumpkins , Indian corn and gourds replace the citronella, sunscreen and bug sprays , and porches are adorned with idols of fruitful harvests.
     Small quaint towns in Vermont begin their hayrides, bonfires and festivals.  It is during this period that the first batches of cider are born.  The saying it is "American as Apple pie", would suggest that apples are American, but it was the European settlers that brought the seeds with them. During Colonial times, cider was the drink of choice, and it is not the apple cider we see today, rather it was hard cider or fermented cider. Since they could not trust water due largely to contamination.   As settlers pushed westward, apple production went with them., and the story of Johnny Appleseed made its way into our history books.  However as it gained popularity it also reached it's pinnacle, with the introduction of German beer.  Beer had a faster fermentation process and German immigrants could set up large breweries for producing larger quantities of beer while cider was only limited to small farms.  With Prohibition on the horizon cider production had all but dried up.
     Here in Vermont we drink what is known as "sweet cider" and mainly it the juice from the apples. The apples are cleaned, cored, quartered and pressed through a cider press, this device mechanically pulps and squeezes the juice out, at this point the cider is ready to be bottled and pasteurized to remove bacteria.
      Making mulled cider is likely to attract guests to your kitchen, the aroma of the spices and sweetness evoke warm feelings of autumn and the approaching winter season.  Mulled cider remains the most beloved drink, it perfumes our homes with memories of holidays past, and the promises of celebrations to come.

If God intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn't have given us grandmothers.~ Linda Henley


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