Everyone has heard the expression, as American as Apple Pie? How about American as Apple Cider? Everyone has heard the story John Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed, but most people don't know is that what apples he propagated were less likely to be pie and more likely to be cider, and hard cider at that.
The apples that Chapman brought to the frontier were completely distinct from the apples available at any grocery store they weren't primarily used for eating-they were used to make America's favorite beverage at the time, hard apple cider.
"Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider," writes Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire. "In rural areas cider took the place of not only wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice, and even water."
In the US today there is nothing short of a cider renaissance, with cideries opening up at record numbers. Here in Northwest we are at a center of the action, for decades Washington has been synonymous with apples and with over 175,000 acres of orchards we produce over half the apples in the US.
We are blessed with many great cider producers but a personal favorite is Finnriver. Finnriver Cidery was founded in 2008 by Eric Jorgensen and Keith and Crystie Kisler. The roots of the cidery began in friendship and farmland and now, with several thousand heirloom cider trees in the ground, farming and fermenting continue side by side on 80 acres in Chimacum Valley on the Olympic Peninsula.
Finnriver is at the forefront of the craft cider revival and farmcrafts a range of traditional, contemporary and seasonal ciders made primarily from organic Washington fruit, along with a line-up of spirited fruit wines.
Cider is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving, the sweet-tart flavors are a natural with the flavors of the thanksgiving table. The lower alcohol is also a nice bonus for a long lazy supper.
Here's another wonderful alternative or addition to you holiday table.
Cider Brined Fresh Ham with Cider Mustard Glaze
1 (6 to 8-pound) bone-in fresh ham
2 cups kosher salt
2 cups sugar
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs fennel seeds
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 gallons water
12 ounces Hard cider
4 medium scallions, coarsely chopped
2 small jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 lime, juiced and zest
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tbs chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs chopped sage
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup whole-grain mustard
1 cup honey
1 cup Apple Cider