Harvest at Dowse Orchards Block


We planted a block of cider apple trees six years ago on semi-dwarf and standard rootstock.  These trees (most of them) have lived through winter and gypsy moth invasions, droughts, and continual vole and varmint pressure throughout the chillier months. They had a pretty decent growing season this year and have sized up nicely (for the most part).

In all we’re growing about 20 different varieties with help from our friends at Dowse Orchards here in Sherborn, MA just down the street where the trees are located. We planted a mix of cider oriented apple trees, including tannic, bittersweet varietals plus American acid bombs like Wickson and Ashmead’s Kernel. This year we have our first official harvest and are proud to report some of the progress. We collected a solid amount of Reine de Pomme, Major, Grimes Golden, Michelin, Calville Blanc, Chisel Jersey, Dabinett, Black Oxford, Golden Russet, Esopus Spitzenburg, Redfield, and Wickson, which are still ripening up. Check out below for more information on each of the different styles. This is just the beginning compilation of the apples we grow and use in our ciders. We will continue to update with more pictures and descriptions of all varieties. 


Grimes Golden

Grimes Golden. Small to medium with greenish-yellow skin, Grimes Golden originated in Virginia in the 1800’s and is one of the parents of the Golden Delicious. It has a sweet flavor with a clean dry finish, similar to Golden Delicious and is one of the more multi-purpose apples we have planted, used for cooking and for making hard cider. Grimes Golden is also self-fertile and an excellent pollinator for other varieties. 


Michelin

Michelin. Small to medium-sized with yellow-green skin and a pink flush, Michelin is a popular traditional French hard cider apple that first fruited in 1872. It was named after M. Michelin of Paris, one of the original government appointed promoters of the study of cider fruits. It’s a “bittersweet” variety, high in tannins and low acidity, often used for blending in cider and produces a medium bittersweet juice.


Calville Blanc

Calville Blanc. Irregular shaped with yellow to pale green skin and light red spots, Calville Blanc is a traditional French dessert apple, that is also excellent for cider making. It’s classified as a “sharp” with lower tannins and higher acidity, known for it’s sweet, juicy flesh and rich sharp flavor. It’s also a very old apple. Originating in France as a chance seedling in the 17th century. We also use this apple in Legendary Dry.


Chisel Jersey

Chisel Jersey. Small and round with a striped red and brownish-pink flush, Chisel Jersey is a “bittersweet” apple that is high in tannins and sugars. It produces a strong, rich, full-bodied, colorful cider that’s best blended with other apples.


Dabinett

Dabinett. Medium sized and flattish with red skin, Dabinett is a high quality “bittersweet” English cider apple variety that makes a sweet, full-bodied cider. We’ve found it’s also one of the most reliable bittersweet apples to grow. This is another apple we use in Legendary Dry. 


Reine de Pomme

Reine de Pomme. Translated as “Queen of Apples”, Reine de Pomme is an archaic French Apple thought to have originated in Normandy, France. It’s a “bittersweet” apple that is rich in flavor and high tannins.


Major

Major. Medium sized with a pinkish red flush, Major is a ‘bittersweet’ apple high in tannins and relatively low in acidity. Dating back to the 19th century, it is a long established variety that was historically found in old farm orchards across the United Kingdom. It is also among the cultivars classified as ‘vintage’ quality meaning it’s capable of being used to make single-varietal cider.


Esopus Spitzenburg 

Esopus Spitzenburg. Fairly large and oblong with red skin and crisp flesh, Esopus Spitzenburg is an American heirloom variety that was discovered early in the 18th century near Esopus, New York. It was widely planted in the United States in the 19th century and used for both dessert and culinary purposes. It has a rich sharpness often characteristic of dessert apples, which makes it a good apple for baking pies as well as making cider.


Black Oxford

Black Oxford. Deep crimson in color, Black Oxford is a traditional apple from Maine that was discovered around 1790. It’s an all-purpose variety, that can be eaten fresh as well as used for making pies and cider. It has a well balanced flavor and firm flesh.


Golden Russet

Golden Russet. Small yellow gold with an occasional orange flush and lot of russeting, Golden Russet is an old apple variety that was discovered in New York State in the 1800s.  It was discovered from a chance seedling of an English russet apple cultivar. It’s a versatile apple that is used for cooking and apple cider production. It’s juicy and crisp which also makes it good enough to eat fresh.  A favorite American variety for all purposes.


Wickson 

Wickson Crab. Small yellow-red, Wickson is a popular crab apple variety which is commonly used in cider blends. It was developed by Albert Etter in California, an apple enthusiast best-known for his work on pink-fleshed and red-fleshed apples. It is classified as “sharp” and is sweet, but is also highly acidic.  It’s a wonderful little apple full of tart and sweet and makes excellent hard cider. We’ve had Wickson apples come in as low as 2.8 pH for those cider makers out there yet still packed with sugar.

Fall Harvest Soup and Salad Recipes


Throughout October the leaves start changing, temperature starts dropping and fall settles in. When thinking about recipes for this month we kept that in mind and ultimately decided that nothing beats a bowl of soup on a cold autumn day. With apple season in full swing we put together a squash and fresh apple soup, which pairs well with Mass Appeal. We included our take on the recipe below as well as a fall inspired salad to go with the dish.


Squash and Fresh Apple Soup

– 1 medium squash

– 2 onions

– 3 apples (we used McIntosh)

– 1½ tbsp grated horseradish (from a jar)

– 1 QT vegetable stock

– Olive oil

– Cheddar crisps (to top with)

– Fresh thyme sprigs

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Chop and deseed the squash, toss with olive oil, season and spread over a large baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Cut the onions and apples into wedges, then add to the tray. Bake for 40 minutes, tossing occasionally, then put everything in a large saucepan. Add the horseradish and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, then blend until smooth. Pour soup into bowls, then top with cheddar crisps and fresh thyme springs.


Plum, Apple and Goat Cheese Salad

  • – 4 fresh plums, cut into quarters
  • – 1 tsp honey
  • – Juice of ½ lemon
  • – 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • – ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • – 2 apples, cored and thickly sliced
  • – Fresh greens (we used spring mix)
  • – Walnut halves
  • – Goat cheese, broken into pieces

 

Place the plums, walnut halves and goat cheese on a lined baking tray, then grill for 5-6 minutes on medium, to soften. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and some freshly ground black pepper. Combine the fresh greens and apples and toss together with the dressing. Top with the grilled plums, walnuts and goat cheese.

3 Fall Tailgate Recipes and a Cider Cocktail


At Stormalong we love cider, but we also love food, so we thought why not start an ongoing blog series that combines the two. Each month we will be sharing different recipes that incorporate cider in one way or another. With fall around the corner and football season kicking off, we decided to start with a few tailgate classics because when we think of football season we think of tailgating. Whether hosting a group of friends at home or heading to the game, we put together a few easy recipes to add to your spread and that pair well with cider.


Whiskey and Cider Cocktail

– 2 ounces Mass Appeal
– 1-1.5 ounces whiskey (we used Maker’s Mark)
– 2 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer

Combine all ingredients in a glass with ice, stir and garnish with an apple slice (if you’d like). Enjoy!


Cider Brine Chicken Wings

– 4 cans Mass Appeal
– 1 cup kosher salt
– ½ cup sugar
– 3-4 bay leaves
– 1/4 cup peppercorn

In a large container, combine the Mass Appeal, salt and sugar, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. (TIP: Pour the salt in slowly because it can cause the cider to spill over the top.) Add bay leaves and peppercorns.  Transfer to a resealable bag, add the meat and seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Set aside in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Remove the meat from the brine and grill on medium heat until cooked all the way through.


Buffalo Chicken Dip

– 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
– 1 package cream cheese, softened
– 1/2 cup buffalo sauce (we used Tessemae’s Natural Buffalo Sauce – It’s gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free, sugar free, vegan and Whole30 Certified)
– 1/2 cup ranch dressing (we used Primal Kitchen ranch dressing – It’s gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free, sugar free, and Whole30 Certified)
– 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
– 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spoon into an oven safe serving dish. Cook for at least 20 minutes, until piping hot. Serve with chips or veggies.


Orzo Pasta Salad

– 1 box of Orzo
– 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
– 1 clove garlic, diced
– 2 ears of corn
– 4 scallions, cut thinly
– 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and sliced
– 1/2 red onion, very finely chopped
– 1 orange pepper, cut into small pieces
– 10 basil leaves, julienned
– 1 large lemon
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– salt and pepper
– feta cheese

Cook orzo in salted water until soft, drain. Blister the tomatoes in 1 tbsp of olive oil, add garlic at the end. Cook corn in the microwave for 3 minutes before shucking, then take corn off the cob. Prep the rest of the veggies and add to bowl. Juice the lemon, add 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and pour over the pasta. Mix everything together and adjust seasonings as needed. Add feta and basil just before serving.

 

Introducing Cider Grown. Cider by Cider Apples.

Some months back, not all that many actually, a few cider makers gathered for a hang in the bucolic lairs of Poverty Lane Orchards, home of fancy cider fruit and delectable Farnum Hill Ciders.  There was talk about the biz, sharing of ciders, and constructive discourse about the lay of the land for different layers of the cider market in the the United States.

One thing that struck us at the meeting was the general consensus among us, that only a tiny sliver of folks actually understand the differences between ciders.  And that drier ciders made in a wine-style fashion with fruit grown for the purpose of making cider seemed pretty new to the vast amount of consumers.   On a positive note though, there was also agreement among the table that these newbies were growing fast, and that there was a growing hunger and appreciation for these drier ciders.

So how do we help educate consumers and folks in the trade about these more orchard-based ciders?  We came up with the idea of showcasing the work of top cider makers, in an easy package, at a price point that doesn’t break the bank.  And thus “Cider Grown” was born.  Again not all that long ago.

So what the heck is “Cider Grown”?  Well you can visit the shiny new website for more info (www.cidergrown.com) but in the meantime I can rattle off the bullet points.

The Cider Grown philosophy:  Orchards + Patience make Cider Grown Ciders.  Basically, choose the right fruit, in this case apples high in tannins, acidity, and sugar.  Press this fruit when fully ripe and ferment with care.  Allow aging for flavors and complexity.  The same approach a winemaker takes when harvesting grapes.  Except their bottles sometimes sell for $100/bottle for some of the exclusive wineries.

The first release from Cider Grown is a “Cider Grown New England” collaboration.  This initial offering showcases three like-minded cideries in New England: Farnum Hill Ciders (NH), Eden Specialty Ciders (VT), and Stormalong (MA).  We all put together blends of our ciders that we felt showcased the cider fruit we have been espousing.  These ciders were then canned and organized into 4 packs.  One can from each cider maker, with the 4th can being a blend from all three cideries.

The stuff has been a constant in my fridge, and I would encourage you to grab a 4 pack where you can.  It’s a limited release, and these ciders are all one-of-a-kind.  Grab a 4 pack and share it amongst friends.  That’s the best way, it allows you to taste the differences between the 4 cans in a more profound manner.  You can start to understand and taste the nuances of the apple blends and techniques.

For those in the NYC area, feel free to join us Friday night, Oct 27th at Wassail in Manhattan.  We’ll have samples of Cider Grown for your tasting pleasure with a great group of folks and cider centrics in house.  All of us Stormalong lads will be there, as well as Mr. Steve Wood and Eleanor Leger of Eden fame.  WASSAIL!



A fine day for a cider.

The summer days have been pretty magnificent lately; that bluebird New England sky coupled with the earthy smell of leaf laden soil in the air.  Just a hint of Fall coming on now, but we’ll be sweltering still for a spell.  This dramatic change in season was something I dearly missed in my previous California days.  I can’t say I absolutely prefer one over the other as they both have their highlights.

In the words of troubadour Conor Oberst, “the story is in the soil.”  The transformative sway of the seasons from bustling green to dormant white greatly influences the fruit we pull from the ground around these parts.  That’s the first part of the equation.  I can sit here and rattle off name after name of apples that most have never experienced.  There are a ridiculous amount of apple cultivars out there in the world.  After much trial and error, I have narrowed my quest as a cider maker down to about 25 different varieties of these selected apples that we both grow and chase throughout New England.  Apples are pretty cool, the weird ones especially.

After spending the last several months pouring our ciders down the throats of thousands of potential customers at farmer’s markets, festivals, and other engagements, I have come to a few conclusions.  First off, the vast majority of people in our orbit have not experienced ciders made with a higher concentration of bittersweet apples.  We also find that a fair amount of folks assume that cider is not their favorite libation perhaps linked to a sickly sweet misadventure of their youth.

Secondly, we pour them a sample of Legendary Dry, they sip it down, ponder for a moment and typically respond, “Huh, I actually like this.”  Yep, thought you might.  Of course taste buds are all over the map, and we also experience those who prefer sweet or other alternatives.  There is also a pretty good contingency of cider initiated folks that are already fans of the category but may be new to  “wine” style made ciders.

I was recently in a meeting with 2 other cider producers and heard an excellent description from one of them regarding the world of cider.

Wine Style Cider: Cider made out of apples in the same way winemakers make wine out of grapes.  The process is pretty hands off with the use of whole fruit and no additonal ingredients.

Kitchen Style Cider: Cider made more like a chef would approach making a dish.  The base is made out of cider, and then the cider maker adds additional ingredients – Cranberries, Cherries, Spices, Ginger, Hot Peppers (can’t say I’m a fan of the hot pepper thing), etc.  This style highlights the ingredients with the cider serving a supporting role.

The world of cider is all over the place in America currently.  That’s not a good or bad thing.  But it is evident from our observations, that educating consumers about the differences is crucial.  If they can’t navigate the choices, then one good experience and one bad experience will probably add up to a negative overall.  There are plenty of folks that are fans of kitchen style ciders, we make a dry hopped cider and I quite like it.  It seems to me anyways, interest in kitchen style cider is similar in context to the endless choices in craft beer these days.

Twenty some odd years ago Pete’s Wicked Ale and Sam Boston Lager were revolutionary.  The choice for consumers was between clear beer and brown beer.  It has taken craft beer over two decades to evolve.  Cider is maybe 4 years into it’s renaissance.  And it’s also good to remember that with all the wackiness, over 50% of craft beer is sold as India Pale Ales.  My point is that people like to experiment in craft beer, but they overall drink more of their preferred I.P.A.s.  Cider gets included in a lot of craft beer comparisons which is good for context, but pigeonholes cider as well.  This brings us back to wine style cider.  If you’re primarily a wine lover, the more wine style ciders will most likely be more appealing to your taste buds.

We have huddled under our 10 x 10 canopies pouring ciders and chatting with the curious, chipper, and cagey.  We have seen hearts and minds change, and it is always a delight for us to brighten up someone’s day with a sip of something pleasurable.  As a cautionary tale however, we hear an awful lot of feedback from folks that their initial impression of cider overall hinged on a few bad experiences.  These bad experiences could have resulted from a response to some crappy cider.  Let’s face it, there is some crappy stuff out there.  But just as plausible, the negative experience could likely have come from a misunderstanding of what the liquid was they were about the ingest.  If this same individual was able to understand and navigate the world of cider better, than the odds would be much better for a positive experience.

In some ways over the last 4 to 5 years we have gotten ahead of ourselves in our little world of cider.  With good intentions and a healthy dose of creativity, the market has been bombarded with too many choices lacking a foundation for consumers as well as cider makers to fully grasp.  As much as we might pat ourselves on the back as a cider community in America, we really have just started to understand what the heck we’re doing.   We don’t have our Boston Lager, or our Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that has paved the way.  We don’t have centuries of cider making experience like those in Normandy or Asturias.  But, that’s not all bad, I like the fact that we’re building from the ground up and putting our own spin on things like we tend to do in America.

With the soil, seasons, and fruit I alluded to earlier here in New England, we are distinctly “apple” advantaged in our neck of the woods.  There are some amazing varieties of apples here that we need to acknowledge, encourage, and grow.  For example, there is a lovely little crabapple called “Wickson” that is pretty much like a delicious sour patch kid when eating out of hand.  Mouth puckering acidity coupled with a dense sweetness.  These apples ferment and age into something that can give a finely crafted white wine a run for it’s money.  You take these acid bombs and combine them with the tannic rich bittersweet apples we have been lucky enough to ferment, and damn that’s some good stuff.  The point is, there is a whole world of wine style ciders of which Americans have barely scratched the surface.

For our part, we’ll continue to work on this more wine style of the fence.  That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate and acknowledge kitchen style ciders.  If cider is going to continue to grow and truly become its own unique category independent of wine or beer, we believe it is important to support and educate about both sides of the fence.  It’s not based on some high and mighty position.  It is primarily based on the feedback from the thousands of smiling faces with whom we have shared our cider with over the summer days.

Welcome to our new home(S)

Greetings cider seekers, apple evangelists, and curiousity driven travelers. You have arrived at the new improved world wide web home of Stormalong Cider. There has been much activity behind the scenes and we are now ready to open the curtains. On our new website we will showcase all of our ciders and provide timely updates through the news section with the latest and greatest. We will also delve deeper into the history of hard cider in Sherborn, MA.  There is a wealth of information we have been studying and exploring with regards to the Holbrook Cider Mill that produced over 1 million gallons of hard cider in the early 1900’s. It is fascinating to learn more about this storied past and understand the ways it connects to the present. Additionally we have finally launched our online store and you will now be able to order our cider directly to your door! Well at least in most States. For those searching for our cider in stores, we are currently distributed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The locator section of our website has a pretty accurate list of stores, bars, and restaurants that carry our products. Please feel free to reach out through email, your social media communicator of choice, and visit with us at events and tastings posted.