About a month ago I got made fun of for wearing a sweater and jeans in 80° weather. This is a yearly problem for me come the end of August. I am just itching to get into sweaters, jeans, boots and maybe a jacket. Fall is my favorite season hands down. Our family orchard is in full swing, the trees dripping with fruit ripe for the picking. Maybe being a part of this family means a certain genetic predisposition to love this season but it can’t be helped. Honey crisp, Gala, Elstar, Swiss Gourment, Mollie’s Delicious and McIntosh’s are all jumping off the trees into our hands for enjoyment. The leaves will soon start to turn, mimicking the fruit they bear; some a little green with a flash of scarlet racing across the skin. Today I stopped by the orchard to snag my favorite apples — the more old-fashioned varietals — Elstar and Swiss Gourmet. The first bite I popped off the Elstar created a heart shape and I couldn’t help but chuckle. I guess they learn after 125 years on the same orchard. How well the apple knew its consumer.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family that has owned a working orchard for 5 generations. At Beckwith Orchards we grow peaches both red haven and white lady, apples, pears and yellow plums and bring in corn and potatoes from another local farm. There is not one picture to be found where a Beckwith baby isn’t holding, gnawing or drooling on a Beckwith apple. My first picture happened to be me nestled in a picking bag full of apples strapped to my Grandpa Charlie.
I’ve often asked why we don’t produce the hard version of cider since we produce the regular nectar of gods. The answer I got was pretty vague, but my guess is we already put a lot of work into harvesting, pruning, killing destructive deer and ground hogs, sorting, selling, the list goes on — there’s just not enough time to add another facet. So this October when the cider comes in I’m going to try my hand at some wild yeast fermentation and see what comes of it. The closest I’ve gotten to turning our cider into hard cider is leaving it in the fridge for 2 weeks, watching the plastic jug bloat like a dead body and drink the stuff with a bite. Advice is welcome!
I. I guess this is more of a post to describe my background with food and in particular my early childhood memories associated with beer and food. One of the fears most commonly represented in movies for kids is the idea of getting lost and separated from your parents (sup, Home Alone I and II). My real-life encounters with parental separation usually took place in the grocery store.
I was so in love with pasta at an early age that I would frequently head for the pasta aisle and stare up at all the different styles (gemelli, which means twins, was an early favorite) and somehow lose the rest of my family. I would also lose track of time pouring over the wall of pasta until over the PA I would hear my name being called and being asked to come to the cash register. My mother was smart enough to also groom me as an intuitive pasta tester at an early age. Every time she made pasta she would ask me to try it at different times so I would grow accustomed to what was raw, semi-cooked, al dente and overcooked.
As for beer, I was also groomed at an early age to pour a beer properly and specifically a Guinness, by my father. He would take us on family vacations to England, Ireland and Scotland where I spent some quality time in pubs inhaling fish and chips that were drowning in malt vinegar while keeping my eyes trained on the tap pulls. My next adventure is to become the queen of pasta making, something in which one would think I’d already dabbled, and try my hand at homebrewing one of these days. So I guess let’s just call this a work in progress and I’ll fill you in on the details as it grows.