Holiday Sips from Saratoga Farmers’ Market
As holiday hosts serve up cocktails and other celebratory drinks (including non-alcoholic ones for those who prefer them), Saratoga Farmers’ Market offers an increasingly wide selection of locally produced beverages.
Rick Green, the honey vendor at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, is a wonderful resource about the science and art of beekeeping, and has developed some products related to the honey he sells. The latest introduction from his business, Ballston Lake Apiaries, is an alcoholic beverage called cyser.
Cyser is a honey wine made from Ballston Lake Apiaries honey and local cider. Cyser is a semi-sweet medium bodied wine similar to a Chardonnay. It is 12% to 13% alcohol by volume, so it is sipped like a cordial in small quantities. Each batch has a different flavor according to the apples used. The batch Rick Green will be sampling on Saturday, December 20th was fermented for a year using predominantly Golden Delicious apples.
Two area vineyards sell their wines at the market. Some of the local grapes used are less familiar to customers than the predominant grapes in California wines.
Kathleen Weber of Northern Star Vineyard in Easton explains the red St. Croix wine this way, “With tastes of spice and pepper, Northern Star Vineyard’s St. Croix wine is light bodied and zesty. Crisp acidity pairs well with St. Croix’ bright berry and plum flavors. It’s best compared to a regional Malbec.”
Debreen Oliva of Oliva Vineyards of Fort Edward offers the following guidance for those seeking comparisons to familiar grapes. “The New York grape Noriet in our Nathan’s Select is similar to a merlot, while the Cayuga grape in our Winner’s Circle White will remind people of a semi-dry Chardonnay or Riesling. Our Post Time Peach is a great wine for anyone seeking something a bit fruitier.”
A holiday wine to enjoy at home or give as a gift is Oliva Vineyards’ Mulled Pretty Filly Rosé. “Warm a bottle of this wine with the included mulling spices—cinnamon, cloves and allspice—and it makes the house smell wonderful, warms you up on a cold day, and tastes great,” says Oliva.
Since it’s always a good idea to offer non-alcoholic drinks for anyone who prefers them, there are several options at the market related to the holidays: cider, eggnog, and freshly made juice.
Saratoga Apple and Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens both offer apple cider. Serve it cold or warm it up on the stove with spices, using the recipe below. Battenkill Valley Creamery sells a lot of its famous eggnog at this time of year, in addition to the always-popular chocolate milk (which can be warmed up for hot chocolate).
Clarity Juice, which specializes in raw and nutrient-dense juices combining a variety of fruits and vegetables, is now offering its bottled juice at the market. The crimson “Beetox” juice includes orange, beet, apple, lemon, and ginger, while “Saratoga” is a green juice with cucumber, apple, kale, spinach, lemon, and ginger. For anyone seeking a beautifully colored holiday Mimosa, owner Sydney Peyser recommends combining champagne and Beetox.
MULLED APPLE CIDER
Great aroma. Non-alcoholic. Offer rum or whiskey for those who want to add it.
Heat together in a large pot over the stove:
1 gallon Saratoga Farmers’ Market apple cider
½ c brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. cloves
Bring to boil, stirring constantly and then just keep warm to ladle out on demand. Leftover cider can also be stored in the refrigerator and heated up as desired.