Growing up in New England, fall usually meant a trip to a nearby orchard to pick a bushel or two of locally grown apples. Most orchards sold more than just apples, they also had jugs of fresh Apple Cider (the official beverage of my home state, New Hampshire) which, until recently, was nearly impossible to find in California. The have plenty of apple drinks labeled “cider” but because most cider is pasteurized, which is quite different in taste and texture than unpasteurized cider.
Pasteurization is a result of health and safety concerns, primarily due to E. coli outbreaks from unpasteurized apple cider, and now all apple cider sold in the United States, other than sales directly to consumers by producers - such as juice bars, farmers’ markets, and roadside farm stands, must be pasteurized. If good sanitation practices are followed, the risk from unpasteurized cider is negligible, so I prefer to seek out unpasteurized cider at my local farmer’s market. I use it quickly as it has a limited shelf-life, although it can be frozen for use throughout the year.
I love using apples and apple cider in many of my recipes. There’s no better way to celebrate fall season than baking some homey apple desserts – anything from classic pies and crisps, to quick breads, muffins and layer cakes. Slicing and peeling apples can be a bit of a chore, and I have two utensils that I can’t live without. The first is a good peeler and my favorite is the Messermeister Pro-Touch Fine Edge Swivel Peeler, which is lightweight, super sharp, and comfortable to hold. (https://bit.ly/18znHC5) Once you have your apples peeled, The Williams Sonoma Dial-A-Slice Apple Divider (https://bit.ly/196KwRq) makes slicing and coring a breeze. This handy gadget will plunge through the apple and make neat, uniform sections and the adjustable blades make eight or 16 recipe-ready slices.
Farm Stand Apple Cider