Our founder shares her method for mak­ing fresh ap­ple cider from the fruit on her farm.

Martha Stewart Living - - Contents -

Each fall, Martha takes out a hand-crank press to turn her ap­ples into a rich, re­fresh­ing cider. She shares her tips for us­ing the clas­sic tool, as well as how to whip up a batch of liq­uid gold with­out one.

When I moved to my farm about 17 years ago, there on the prop­erty were sev­eral dozen old, shapely ap­ple trees. My sec­ond year there, I har­vested my first full crop from them. I was as­ton­ished at their prod­uct iv­ity, the va­ri­ety of fruits, and the ab­so­lute tast iness of the ap­ples. I had not touched the trees since I moved in: They had not been pruned, nor sprayed or fed, yet they pro­duced a fla­vor­ful crop that was ex­cel­lent for both eat­ing and bak­ing, and amaz­ingly juicy for press­ing.

My first thought was This is great ap­ple coun­try. The open land, ori­ented to­ward the north, was right for plant­ing, and the soil, which I tested, had a bal­anced pH of 5.6. I or­dered sev­eral dozen more trees, most ly semid­warf in grow­ing habit (reach­ing 12 to 15 feet in height) and va­ri­eties I had ex­per­i­mented with at my old home, Turkey Hill. I also pur­chased two-year-old trees from my old friend and sup­plier, Henry Leuthardt, a grower in East Moriches, Long Is­land. Those were al­ready trained in an es­palier form, with two sets of hor­i­zon­tal branches. I planted them to grow along wires near my house in three rows, be­cause I thought my grand­chil­dren would love pick­ing from them. Within five years, all of them were pro­duc­ing bushels of ap­ples, some red-skinned, some striped, some green—all crisp, tart, and suc­cu­lent.

We soon had many more ap­ples than we, as a fam­ily, could con­sume. I looked into ci­der­mak­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to pies, crisp s, and pink ap­ple­sauce. I bought a real press and grinder, and half-gal­lon glass Ma­son jars for stor­age. To­day I pro­duce all kinds of things from the cider we press: drinks like bour­bon sours and hot mulled and hard cider; braised chicken; and even ap­ple-cider vine­gar. But it’s also al­ways de­li­cious en­joyed sim­ply: icy cold on a bril­liant fall day.

FRESH PICKS Martha grows a va­ri­ety of ap­ples on her farm, in­clud­ing ‘Graven­stein’, which are es­pe­cially good in cider.

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