Slyboro Cider: Reviving an American Tradition
Written by Margot Reisner, a summer intern for Saratoga Farmers’ Market, and 2014 graduate of Skidmore College.
Apple cider is a tradition as old as America. At one point in our history, Americans drank more cider than water, most of it what we usually now call “hard”(alcoholic) cider. Even President John Adams was known to drink a tankard of cider every morning to promote good health.
Many orchards were shut down during the time of Prohibition and cider production and consumption was seen as taboo. When Prohibition was finally lifted, large-scale beer production had overtaken the alcohol market, and most of the cider that was produced was of the “sweet”(non-alcoholic) variety.
But in recent years, hard apple cider has made a comeback! With an increasing number of people with gluten intolerances and celiac disease, some of the market for beer has waned, and the market for cider is expanding. Since apples are a staple of Northeastern farms, there are ample resources for producing dinnertime drinks locally.
Slyboro Ciderhouse, run by Susan Knapp and her husband Dan Wilson at Hicks Orchard in Granville (Washington County), is bringing back traditional hard American ciders and selling them at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market every Saturday, at a booth on the north lawn at High Rock Park.
Slyboro Ciderhouse is made from apples grown right on the orchard, something that few other cider brands do. Most hard cider sold at grocery stores and beverage centers is produced at an industrial scale with flavoring, additives and concentrate. Slyboro Cider is an orchard-based cider house, where the focus is on the apples and small-scale production techniques.
Slyboro makes a range of hard ciders, both still and sparkling, and all packaged in beautiful bottles with artistic labels. “Night Pasture” is a still cider; “Hidden Star” (semi-dry) and “Old Sin” (dry) and the new “Black Currant” are sparkling; and “Ice Cider” is a sweeter aperitif or dessert cider with a higher alcohol content.
Slyboro has won multiple awards for its cider including a double gold medal for “Hidden Star”at the International Eastern Wine Competition in 2007.
Slyboro Ciderhouse is dedicated to reclaiming “true cider” as America’s favorite drink. In any season, for special occasions, or for a welcome locally-crafted gift, Slyboro Ciderhouse encourages you to “consider cider.”
Hard Cider Risotto with Kale, Apple, and Mushrooms
*Ingredients available at the market
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion*, diced
3 cloves of garlic*, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/4 cups Slyboro Cider*
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 large leaves of curly or Lacinato kale*, de-stemmed and chopped
1 small apple*, peeled and diced
½ pound mushrooms* (select variety according to what you like)
1 tablespoon butter
Rosemary sprigs to garnish
Sea salt, ground black pepper, and (optional) crushed red pepper
When ready to start the risotto, place broth in small saucepan and heat to low simmer.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.
Add the rice, cook for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring to coat rice in oil. Do not cover skillet.
Add the Slyboro Cider, continue stirring until the cider is absorbed, another minute or two.
Add the broth a ladleful at a time. Stir frequently. Once the broth is absorbed add another ladle. Continue until about ¾ of the broth has been used.
When roughly ¾ of the broth is used and the rice is approaching desired tenderness, but still a bit chewy (take a taste!), stir in the kale, apples, mushrooms, and butter.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook for a few more minutes until the butter is melted, the kale is wilted, and mushrooms and apples are soft. Serve with a glass of Slyboro Cider.