Apple Cider - A New England Tradition

When it comes to Apple Cider, New England is the Master of the Mills. Learn why cider packs more nutrition, flavor, and nostalgia than your standard apple juice.

It doesn't get much better than hand-picking apples at a New England orchard during the fall, except maybe savoring a cup of fresh apple cider. Besides its rich history in Colonial America, apple cider goes a long way in taste, health benefits, and fall traditions. 

Fall Traditions

What's fall without cider?  This New England staple is a seasonal favorite-traditionally served throughout apple-picking months, at Halloween, at Thanksgiving, and well into the winter holidays.  Apple cider can be enjoyed cold, or heated and mulled-mixed with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Whichever way you like it, there's no separating cider from the season!

mulled-apple-cider

History of Cider in New England

Cider literally was a staple for early settlers in New England. Just a few years after arriving at Plymouth Rock in 1620, colonists began to plant apple trees. Apples were a good source of food and beverage-the Pilgrims stored the apples and brewed cider to help them through the harsh New England winters. Back then, all cider was "hard" and not the sweet, non-alcoholic version we find in farm markets. Hard cider is created by fermenting pressed apple juice-a process used to preserve the beverage longer.

As history would have it, cider became the most common beverage in New England.  This fizzy, fermented version of apple juice was simple to make, kept longer than milk, and safer to drink than water. Early settlers even brewed a low-alcholic version for their children, known as "ciderkin", by steeping their apple mash and pressing it for a second time.

What's the Difference between Apple Cider and Apple Juice?

Apple cider and apple juice have one thing in common-they're both beverages made from fresh-squeezed apples.  

The key difference between the two-cider is apple juice that hasn't undergone the filtration process of removing particles, pulp or sediment.  Apple juice is filtrated to remove solids and then heated to kill bacteria.  Some apple ciders, such as Lyman Orchards Apple Cider, are also pasteurized to extend the shelf life. The result-cider is more opaque than apple juice due to apple particles in suspension and is typically tangier than processed apple juice.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider

Since apple cider isn't filtered, it retains many of the same nutrients as fresh apples and has more polyphenols than apple juice.  Polyphenols are antioxidants that can lower the risks for certain health conditions.  Here are some of the potential health benefits of apple cider:

What Types of Apples are used to make Cider?

Traditional cider is typically made by blending several varieties of apples to give it a balanced taste. McIntosh, Braeburn, and Cortland apples are especially noteworthy for their acidic, tart flavor, while Fuji, Cortland, Gala and Red Delicious apples provide a sweeter taste.  Since New England orchards grow multiple varieties, it's possible to create a consistent mix throughtout the year. 

The flavor of the cider also reflects the seasons.  In September and October the cider tends to be tart as the predominant apples that are squeezed are tarter and have more bite to them.  Moving into November and December, the cider is sweeter.

Lyman Orchards Fresh Apple Cider

Lyman Orchards Fresh Apple Cider is pasteurized and contains no preservatives.  In fact, the ingredient list is as clean as it gets-100% Apple Juice. Lyman Orchards cider is available for purchase at the Apple Barrel Farm Market in gallon, half gallon and pint sizes. In the fall, we offer straight Gala or Honeycrisp blends available in 1/2 gallons. You'll also find freshly-baked apple cider donuts and donut holes in our award-winning bakery! For information on pick-your-own apples, please visit lymanorchards.com/pick-your-own/apples.

Pick Your Own - An Affordable Family Day Trip

If you're looking for a wholesome, memorable, and affordable family outing, pick-your-own apples at Lyman Orchards is well worth the trip and a whole lot more!

When you live in New England, apple picking is just one of those quintessential pastimes that never goes out of style.  Maybe that's because it's more than the act of picking apples. It's a day when the family spends quality time together, enjoys panoramic countryside views, and makes memories to last a lifetime. When planning your next family adventure, there's a bushel of reasons to pick a day of apple picking at Lyman Orchards.

CT Grown Orchard Fresh Apples

There's simply no comparison between picking your own orchard-fresh CT grown apples and buying a bag of apples from the grocery store.  For starters, Lyman Orchards apples are eco-certified which means our apples are grown using agricultural methods that preserve and protect the orchard ecology. Not to mention, you really don't know how fresh those store-bought apples really are, how they were handled (or mishandled), or how far or long they had to travel to make their way into the produce aisle.  There's no fresher apple than a hand-picked apple straight from the tree!

lyman-orchards-pick-your-own-apple-bag

Pay by the Bag (not by the pound or person)

At the grocery store, apples are sold by the pound but when you visit Lyman Orchards pick-your-own apple orchards, you pay by the 1/2 peck (5-6 lbs), peck (8-10 lbs), and 1/2 bushel (18-22 lbs).  The more apples you stuff into your PYO bag the more money you save per pound.  You also save based on the size of the PYO bag you choose - the bigger the bag, the bigger the savings!

And since you're not paying by the person like most other family outings, fruit picking is extremely economical for a large family.  Bring the baby, the grandparents, and anyone else who might want to tag along!

Abundant Apple Varieties

Unlike the grocery store, you'll find some hard-to-find apple varieties along with all of your New England favorites like McIntosh, Cortland, and Macoun apples.  Voted CT's Best Pick Your Own Farm, Lyman Orchards grows 27 different types of apples, so go ahead and create a mixed bag of old favorites, and try some new varieties - try doing that at the grocery store!

lyman-orchards-ginger-gold-apples

 

The Great Outdoors

Pick-your-own farms are a great way to teach the kids about where their food comes from while taking in some fresh- air fun! At Lyman Orchards, we have 100 sprawling acres of apple orchards with plenty of room to rove between row after row of 30,000 trees.  You'll also enjoy some of Connecticut's most dramatic countryside scenery - great for capturing family photos!

lyman-orchards-scenic-views

 

It's Worth The Trip

Besides apple orchards, the Lyman Orchards property has so much more to offer than just fruit picking. We have plenty of free and affordable family fun activities to fill your day!  Get lost in our Corn Maze, play some cornhole with the kids, pick your own pumpkin, and visit our family-friendly Apple Barrel Farm Market for lunch on the patio, award-winning hi-top apple pies, our famous apple cider donut holes, Lyman's own  apple cider, farm-fresh produce, specialty grocery items, and apple crisp sundaes at the Lyman Orchards Creamery.  

lyman-orchards-ben-franklin-corn-maze

 

Take Home the Fun

And when you arrive back home with your overstuffed PYO bag of apples, extend the excursion by baking your own apple pie, apple crisp, or making homemade apple sauce with the kids.  Just another great way to create new family-favorite recipes and traditions to be enjoyed for years to come!

apple crisp

Apples to Apples, Lyman Orchards Pick-Your-Own Apples is a budget-friendly day of  fresh air and family fun!  For more savings, we've packaged up some amazing Pick-Your-Own Apples and Corn Maze deals! For more informaton, visit our PYO apple page. Lyman Orchards Apple Orchards are open daily from 9am-4:30pm, weather permitting.  Before you head out, be sure to call our PYO hotline at 860-349-6015 for daily updates, or check our website.  For additional pick-your-own fruits and our seasonal calendar, please visit lymanorchards.com/pick-your-own.

What in the World is an Asian Pear?

If you're wondering what makes a pear an Asian Pear, you've come to the right place! Lyman Orchards pares it all down to explain these noble and exotic pear varieties.  

When is a pear an Asian Pear? Let's set this straight.  All pears have a common ancestry lineage-they all originated in western China.  But the Pear family tree split when some pears were carried westward and their shape and taste were modified into familiar varieties such as the ever-so-popular Bartlett pear.  Yet, other pears migrated eastward to Korea and Japan and were apple-shaped and crispier in texture. 

History of Asian Pears

For centuries, Asian pears were reserved only for the rich and noble, and became a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in China. Fast forward a few hundred years, and now Asian pears are the most popular fruit in all of Asia!  

These exotic fruits first made their way to American soil around 1850, brought to California by Chinese laborers. Today, there are thousands of Asian pear varieties.  In the United States, Asian pears are also known as apple pears, nashi pears, sand pears, Chinese pears, Japanese pears, and Korean pears. 

japanese-asian-pear-art

19th century Japanese wood panel depicting Asian pears

The Perfect Pear

“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Herein lies the main difference between western pears and Asian pears. Asian pears are ripe when they are still firm, just like apples - they ripen best on the tree. 

Asian pear skin ranges from greenish-yellow to pale bronze, with a rough texture and matte speckled finish.  Asian pear flesh is white, juicy, and crunchy - much like an apple.  They also keep for longer periods of time - up to a month or more when refrigerated!

Their distinctive crispiness makes them an ideal salad ingredient.  They also hold up well when cooked since they don't break down like common pears but maintain their texture and integrity.

Here are some Asian Pear varieties you can find right here in Connecticut at Lyman Orchards:

20th Century Asian Pear

20th-century-asian-pear-ct

The 20th Century Asian Pear is a hybrid variety cultivated in Japan during the early 1900s and happens to be one of the most popular types of Asian pears in Japan. The 20th Century Asian pear smells like a pear, but, like an apple, the fruit is crisp, firm and round. The flavor is like a pear on steroids, pumped up and sweeter. Twentieth Century pears are on the larger side, with smooth, green skin. The flesh of the fruit is crisp, white, and very juicy. 

 

Shinseiki Asian Pear

shinseiki asian pear ct

The Shinseiki Asian Pear is rounder than most other types of pears and is a light greenish-yellow in color. This particular variety is also known as the "apple pear" because of its shape and color. The Shinseiki is native to Japan and is also one of the country's most popular types of pears.  The flavor is mildly sweet. Shinseiki Asian Pears have a crisp, white flesh.

 

Hosui Asian Pear

hosui-asian-pear-ct

The Hosui Asian Pear is widely considered the "best tasting Asian pear" by growers and consumers.  Hosui pears are large and round, with a golden-brown color. It has a mild sweet flavor with a touch of acidity. The name Hosui roughly translates to mean "much water," and describes the fruit's juicy flesh. This pear variety is classified as a dessert pear and may be used fresh or in cooked recipes.

 

Niitaka Asian Pear

nitaka-asian-pear-ct

The Niitaka Asian Pear is a large, round pear with yellow-green fruit skin and white flesh. It is one of the sweeter varieties of Asian pears, with a crisp texture. Niitaka is known as one of the most versatile of any Asian pear variety.  Niitaka are great for fresh eating and canning.

Lyman's Asian Pear Season extends from mid-August to late September for a 6-week season, but always call the Lyman Orchards Pick Your Own Hotline at 860-349-6015 before heading out.  While there's plenty of room amongst our rows and rows of Asian pear trees, crowds are generally lightest Monday-Friday.  You can find our 2022 Pick Your Own procedures here

For information on our traditional pear varieties, visit our Pick Your Own Pear page.

While you're here at Lyman Orchards, get lost in the 2022 Lyman Orchards Ben Franklin Corn Maze, open September 3 - November 6th!

Don't forget about Lyman Orchards 1741 Hard Apple Cider! Available at 1741 Pub and Grill located at Lyman Orchards Golf Club, as well as an ever-growing list of local package stores and restaurantsAnd if you're more of a non-alcoholic cider fan, we've got you covered at The Apple Barrel Farm Market!

We look forward to being part of your PYO Asian Pear adventure, and we thank you for your patronage!  Lyman Orchards is a pick your own “agritainment farm” in CT with hundreds of acres dedicated to picking your own farming, golfing, dining, entertainment, and retail.  So after you’ve picked apples, we invite you to dine at the 1741 Pub & Grill or grab a sandwich or an ice cream at the Apple Barrel Farm Market.  Also, remember Lyman Orchards Golf for your golf day and lessons.  There’s something fun for everyone happening at Lyman Orchards - be sure to check out our Events regularly so you don’t miss out!   

2022 CT Best Pick Your Own Farm is Lyman Orchards

The results are in, and the readers of Connecticut Magazine have once again selected Lyman Orchards as the Best Pick Your Own Farm in Connecticut. In a state with many wonderful farms to choose from, this is such an honor!

The path to obtaining this award has been 280 YEARS in the making!  In fact, Lyman Orchards is the twelfth oldest family-owned company still in operation in the country!  The Lyman Orchards story begins in 1741, when John Lyman and his wife Hope purchased 37 acres of land in a southwest area of Middletown (currently Middlefield), now the site of the Homestead and the Apple Barrel Farm Market.  In the 1960’s Lyman Orchards invited everyone to be a “farmer for the day” and Pick Your Own (“PYO”) was born.  Now in 2021, 350 acres of the 1000-acre Lyman Orchards property is dedicated to PYO fields.  Lyman Orchards continues to welcome guests from June to November to take part in this tradition by picking your own fresh fruits - over 100 varieties to choose from!

Want a hear of little bit of living history?  Call the Pick Your Own Hotline at 860-349-6015 and you will most likely be treated to the voice of our modern-day John Lyman, eighth generation family member of the original John Lyman, providing an upbeat and informative listing of daily picking conditions, varieties, prices, and events.

For more information, and to see what's in season at Lyman Orchards, visit our Pick Your Own Guide, 0r see below for a complete listing:

HONEYBERRIES

Honeyberries are quickly moving up the berry food chain as the up-and-coming super fruit! Not only are they great for baking, jam-making, and snack-taking, the numerous health benefits of honeyberries make them a nutritional powerhouse.

STRAWBERRIES

The PYO season always starts with a winner – strawberries!  Beginning in early June (sometimes late May if the conditions are right), visitors can fill their containers with these plump and vibrant gems.  Did you know that there are multiple varieties of strawberries for picking?  The varieties come in different sizes and different levels of sweetness – come try them all!

JOSTABERRIES

The Jostaberry is a complex cross between black currants and gooseberries.  Never heard of them?  That’s probably because they are not well suited to mechanical harvesting, so their commercial production is limited.  Lucky for you, they are here at Lyman Orchards waiting to be picked from early to mid-July.  Do what robots can’t and pick yourself some jostaberries.

BLUEBERRIES

These nutritional powerhouses are yours for the picking from mid-July to early August.  Bonus:  Blueberry bushes are perfectly human-sized for picking without bending.

RASPBERRIES

While familiar to most people, raspberries are still some of the weirdest fruits available at Lyman Orchards.  Technically they are not even berries because each individual raspberry is made of dozens of drupelets which together surround a core that remains on the bush when plucked, leaving you with the empty cup-shaped raspberry.  Come back in late June to late July to see these delicious tiny monsters for yourself.

APPLES

Lyman Orchards apples are ECO-CERTIFIED meaning that environmentally disruptive practices (e.g. sprays) are minimized in favor of natural occurring controls (ladybugs and other predators).  It’s fair to say that Lyman Orchards knows apples!  And there are over 20 varieties of apples to pick from – all having a unique flavor profile.  While apples in general are available from mid-August to mid-November, each variety has its own little “mini season” so pay attention to what’s picking from the Pick Your Own Hotline (860-349-6015), or visit our daily PYO updates and try them all!

PEACHES / NECTARINES

Lyman Orchards peaches are also ECO-CERTIFIED to preserve and protect the orchards’ ecology.  Available mid-July to late September, your sweet and juicy peach picking experience includes “cling-stone” varieties earlier in the season (when the flesh clings to the pit) and “free stone” varieties later in the season.

PEARS

Homer didn’t call pears the “gift of the gods” for nothing.  Pears are absolutely delightful, and you can pick these shapely treats from late August to late September.  And don’t forget to pick some Asian pears too.  Apple-shaped Asian pears do make luxurious tasting gifts – yum!

PUMPKINS

The pumpkin spice craze would be nothing without the pumpkin.  Find your moment of Autumn greatness and dive into the Lyman Orchards pumpkin patch, filled with classic orange pumpkins, as well as trendy white pumpkins and jolly green pumpkins.  And don’t miss the warty goblin pumpkin that’s in a class of its own!

As exciting as picking your own fruits can be, Lyman Orchards is here to take your day’s fun up several more notches.  Offerings vary throughout the season.

The Lyman family is proud and determined to maintain and evolve the farm for future generations.  We will continue to work hard at deserving this Best Pick Your Own Farm in CT award and look forward to hosting you throughout the year on your PYO farming journey.

Early Apples - The First Taste of Fall

With the first days of September upon us, the first fruits of Apple Season are now appearing at Lyman Orchards! 

Pick Ginger Gold, Early Mac, Ruby Reds (Red-Free), Paula Reds, Empress, and Sunrise Apples!

 

New England apple picking evokes everything we love about fall.  Apple picking season usually starts at the end of summer and runs through mid November. New Englanders are lucky to enjoy early-season apple varieties. Below are some of the best and brightest stars now appearing in the orchards for a limited time only!

Ginger Gold

ginger-gold

If you're yearning for a fresh-picked apple in late summer, the early ripening Ginger Gold plays the part as a great snacking apple. Ginger Gold's are sweet with mildly tart overtones.  As there name insinuates, the Ginger Gold skin ripens from green to pale yellow.

Use Ginger Golds to add a bit of crunch to sandwiches, burgers, and grilled cheeses, or use for baking pies, turnovers, muffins, and cobblers. They can also be pureed into apple sauce or simmered into jams and preserves.  Ginger Gold apples will keep for several weeks in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Early Mac

Early Mac apples are a juicy, sweet, moderately crisp early season apple, ideal for cooking as well as snacking. Early Mac is a cross of McIntosh and Yellow Transparent apples, developed out of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and first available in 1923.

Just like McIntosh apples, the skin is mostly red with green or yellow patches, and the skin is dotted with lenticels which allow the apple to "breathe", much like the pores on your skin. Early Macs are best eaten soon after picking.

Ruby Red (Red-Free)

We can't figure out why this apple is sometimes referred to as "Red free"? It is definitely not free of the color red. Ruby Red, or Red-Free apples are medium size with a shiny, bright red color over a majority of the fruit. Crisp and juicy, the taste is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Red-Free is a great multi-purpose apple that works well in baking, salads, and for fresh eating.

Paula Red

If you like a tart apple, take a big healthy bite of a Paula Red apple. It's one of the earliest varieties harvested, and the first taste of fall for many apple lovers. Paula Red apples are red with yellow spots and have a somewhat dusty appearance. Paula Red apples are ideal for fresh eating and cooking, although they become extremely soft during cooking, which makes them suitable for some recipes (apple sauce), but not others (pies).

Empress

Empress is somewhat of an uncommon apple due to it's peculiar shape. It is more of a plum-shaped apple and tapers towards the top, almost like an upside-down apple!  A medium-sized, semi-firm, purply-blush apple, Empress is especially good for fresh eating.  The Empress apple is actually a cross between the Jonamac apple and Vista Bella apple and was first released in 1966. 

Sunrise

Sunrise apples are one of the first varieties to be harvested each year. That’s why many people refer to them as “summer apples.” Sunrise apples are firm and crisp with a sweet yet tart flavor.  They're great for snacking, salads, pies, sauces, and even fresh apple juice!

Lyman's apple season extends from mid-August to mid-November for a full 12-week season, but always call the Lyman Orchards Pick Your Own Hotline at 860-349-6015 before heading out.  While there's plenty of room amongst our rows and rows of apple trees, crowds are generally lightest Monday-Friday.  You can find our 2022 Pick Your Own procedures here

While you're here at Lyman Orchards, get lost in the 2022 Lyman Orchards Ben Franklin Corn Maze, open September 3 - November 6th!

Don't forget about Lyman Orchards 1741 Hard Apple Cider! Available at 1741 Pub and Grill located at Lyman Orchards Golf Club, as well as an ever-growing list of local package stores and restaurantsWe'll also be serving up 1741 Hard Apple Cider this fall at our Suds & Stalks Corn Maze Beer TastingsAnd if you're more of a non-alcoholic cider fan, we've got you covered at The Apple Barrel Farm Market!

We look forward to being part of your PYO apple adventure, and we thank you for your patronage!  Lyman Orchards is a pick your own “agritainment farm” in CT with hundreds of acres dedicated to picking your own farming, golfing, dining, entertainment, and retail.  So after you’ve picked apples, we invite you to dine at the 1741 Pub & Grill or grab a sandwich or an ice cream at the Apple Barrel Farm Market.  Also, remember Lyman Orchards Golf for your golf day and lessons.  There’s something fun for everyone happening at Lyman Orchards - be sure to check out our Events regularly so you don’t miss out!   

Hard Apple Cider - A Sweet Alternative

Hard Cider presses forward as America's fresh alternative in adult beverages.

 

With signs of the hard seltzer industry starting to fizzle out, there's some hard competition ripe for taking its place. Although hard cider holds a humble 1% of overall alcohol beverage industry revenue in the U.S., the category has grown exponentially in the past decade.  With its crisp and and refreshing flavor, hard apple cider is a sweet and lighter alternative to the bitter flavor of hop-laden beer.

What is Hard Cider?

A popular drink in New England dating back to early settlers, hard cider is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting pressed fruit juices such as apples.   On average, most hard ciders are 4.5% - 7% alcohol by volume.  Since "cider" was historically used as a general label for any freshly pressed juice, the term "hard cider" is used to differentiate from its non-alcoholic counterpart.  Yes, let's be clear-this is the hard stuff!

Is Hard Cider Beer?

Hard cider is not classified as beer, although it is frequently found on beer lists in bars and restaurants. The only quality the two beverages have in common is that they’re both fermented. Beer is  a fermented alcoholic beverage brewed from malt and flavored with hops. Cider, on the flipside, is an alcoholic drink made from fermented fruit juice. 

Another attribute that sets hard cider apart from beer is the fact that it's gluten-free!  It also happens to be tannin-rich (full of antioxidants) and all-natural!

Hard Cider Food Pairing

When considering what foods to pair with hard cider, just ask yourself what you would normally pair apples with.  Pork, chicken, and salads all pair nicely with hard apple cider. Cider also integrates well into craft cocktail recipes!

Lyman Orchards 1741 Hard Apple Cider

Lyman Orchards 1741 Hard Apple Cider pays homage to a time when a classic New England cider was a staple for a young country. 1741 is crafted using a secret blend of cider apple varieties. Full-bodied with an orchard-fresh taste, 1741 Connecticut Crisp offers a semi-sweet, yet tart, flavor profile.  

1741 Hard Apple Cider can be found at 1741 Pub and Grill located at Lyman Orchards Golf Club, as well as an ever-growing list of local package stores and restaurants.  We'll also be serving up 1741 Hard Apple Cider this fall at our Corn Maze Beer Tastings.  And if you're more of a non-alcoholic cider fan, we've got you covered at The Apple Barrel Farm Market!