We’re excited that the weather’s finally turned in the direction of fall. We heat with wood and it seems a bit early to be starting fires in the fireplace, so we tolerate 60-degree mornings and eat our hot cereal breakfasts. As the day warms up outside, we open the front door to let the sunshine warm up the living room and we seek out the sunny spots and shed layers as we warm up from our cold start. The kids sleep in fleece footie pajamas upstairs and we pile on the blankets on the main floor and enjoy just how cold we are since the reality is that in the dead of winter when we have the fireplace going, the house is actually warmer than it is right now.
Fall is the best time to be in Minnesota, isn’t it? It’s so easy to show off our state when we’ve got sunshine and highs in the sixties and a little color on the leaves and a little crispness in our nights.
Mike and I are native Minnesotans and, like so many Minnesotans are, we’re prouder of our state than what probably makes sense to non-Minnesotans. This weekend in particular at the orchard is a real celebration of Minnesota between two newly-picked varieties and a new cider we’re excited to share with you.
The new cider this week is Borealis, an ice cider. Ice ciders are made from regular cider (juice) that’s been frozen, partially thawed, and fermented. It’s sweet but has an ABV of 13.5%. It’s no surprise that our climate is perfect for making ice cider: we froze our juice outside in the first week of January this year. The apples that go into it matter too, of course, and it turns out that the best ice cider is made from high-acid apples, like so many of those developed by the University of Minnesota. This ice cider was Mike’s baby over the winter, so he’ll be happy to tell you all about it if you ask him.
Newly picked apples this week are Haralson and Prairie Spy. Everybody knows Haralson, which I call Minnesotans’ favorite apple BHC (before Honeycrisp); but Prairie Spy’s kind of a sleeper hit that has only a few rabid fans. The University of Minnesota introduced it in 1940, eighteen years after Haralson. Give it a try if you’re down this weekend. The photo above is of a Prairie Spy. I love its russeted top that looks so imperfect but that is one of its distinguishing features.
Other apple varieties ripe this week include Honeygold (a 1970 U of M release),
Shamrock (sold out), McIntosh, Cortland, and Regent.