Do you have a favorite time of the year? For me I always look forward to fall for the changing colors, the crispness of the air, Sugar Hubbard squash and APPLES! Here in the Pacific Northwest we grow some of the most delicious apple varieties in the world. There is nothing like biting into a crisp, juicy fresh apple, enjoying a slice of just-baked apple pie or drinking a glass of fresh-from-the-farm apple cider. Luckily for me, Skagit Fresh located in Bow, Washington produces a delicious fresh-pressed, seasonal cider from September to January and it’s available at all fourteen of our stores in Washington and Oregon.
The Skagit Valley is one of Washington’s most beautiful and productive agricultural areas located west of the Cascade Mountains, north of Seattle. In the last seven years, apple production in the valley has decreased by over 30% due to price pressure from foreign-grown product and large-scale agribusiness production. Three farmers, Alan Merritt and Jim Perkins (both second-generation farmers) and Richard Sakuma (a third-generation farmer!) teamed up in 2004 with the goal of preserving apple growing as a viable crop in the Skagit Valley – and Skagit Fresh was born.
Skagit Fresh cider is unique. The only apples used in this cider are grown by the three owners on their farms which are all located within 20 miles of the cider press. The primary apple variety in the cider is Jonagold, which is then blended with Gravenstien and/or Honeycrisp. The apples are hand-picked, washed and pressed into cider within one day of being harvested from the trees. The cider is UV cold pasteurized to ensure that just picked taste of fresh apples. In fact each gallon of cider contains the juice of about 30 apples.
I got to spend the day with Alan, Richard and Jim while they showed the host of Hungry for More how the cider is made – from tree to bottle.
Because this cider is only available from September through January I try to make sure to enjoy it as often as possible. Of course it’s delicious cold but it’s equally delicious warmed with or without mulling spices and you can even reduce it to make a delicious glaze for pork. Here are some recipes from our site that use cider.
Although this cider is only available in our Washington and Oregon stores, check with your local store to see what local or fresh ciders they carry this time of year.
Do you have a favorite way to enjoy cider?