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Gardener's Grapevine 2011.09.28

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

It’s officially fall and mixed emotions play through me. I love the seasonal changes, but as I age the prospect of winter seems less and less exciting.

Kids have none of these thoughts; they live in the moment and their biggest thoughts are of the next holiday or main event on the horizon. Fall means Halloween and winter means snow days and Christmas. I guess that’s why everyone enjoys seeing the world through a child’s eyes—it’s all beauty and fun.

One of my favorite things in the fall is fresh apple cider. A lot of farmers pasteurize their cider, which means it’s cooked to kill all the bacteria. That’s not all they kill, the taste is dramatically different, too.

Usually I don’t endorse anyone for anything, but a good product is worth telling about. Since I was small I remember going to Pennington Orchard off of U.S. 20 for produce and fresh cider. As a child it never occurred to me how cider was made, I just knew that it was good. They do not pasteurize it, so it is fresh and crisp like a new apple.

Not long ago I spoke with Larry Pennington about the cider and his history with it. He informed me his father taught him to make cider and now he is teaching his grandson. Thank goodness for families that hand down their talents. No cider from Pennigton’s is like no nativity at Christmas.

Apples are another part of fall. I have never encountered a person who dislikes apples. There are so many things to do with them and so many varieties. Art’s favorite is an apple called an Arkansas Hard. It is a tart, crisp apple and he describes them as the extreme of everything—hardness, tartness and flavor.

Many people in Morenci will remember Tom Horton and his cider. It was good, just like Pennington’s, because he learned to make it from Mr. Pennington.

Larry Pennington said one time they got together to make cider and Tom put his apples in the press. Larry was working the press, when the cider started running darker than usual. He shut the press down and yelled to Tom to stop feeding the apples, an animal must have gotten in the press. Tom laughed at him and explained he had put red beets in with the apples to darken it and add more sweetness.

Cider from an orchard is all natural and by law cannot have anything unnatural added. Larry explained to me that a cider press is held to extreme cleanliness and sanitary standards and that an animal can’t be anywhere near it. For this reason he is extremely cautious in all he does to press cider. Whatever it is he’s doing, he’s doing it perfectly.

Now where are the donuts?

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