When I was a kid,I lived in a small town surrounded with farms and other small towns. Every fall we would go to Hast apple orchard and cider mill in Berlin Heights, Ohio. Hast Cider Mill is the oldest cider mill west of the Appalachians. The cider tank was in a big old barn. The inside of the barn was always dark, but the giant sliding doors at either end made it feel light. The smells of cider and apples and pie were practically a meal on their own.
The cider was different every time. Sometimes it would be tart, sometimes super sweet, always fresh. Customers could taste the cider before buying. There was a small tap with a stack of tiny paper cups next to it, and we were welcome to help ourselves. My mother would wander around, picking out apples, cider, vegetables – and I would drink tiny cup after tiny cup of cider. By the time we left, I would be gloriously full. And in need of a bathroom, which they didn’t have!
There are orchards near where I live now, but the experience just isn’t the same – and the cider is pasteurized, which completely changes the flavor to something akin to strong apple juice. Happily, after years of nostalgic thoughts of “our” cider mill, a replacement has finally arrived in the form of a pumpkin farm!
We found a lovely pick your own farm last year. After a glorious hour wandering around the fields and choosing pumpkins, we went to pay, and I found fresh, unpasteurized cider right next to the register. Serendipity!