There are many things I'm thankful for. I think the thing I'm most thankful for is the experiences I have and the knowledge I gain. Last week, in preparation for our Thanksgiving Beer Dinner, I was visiting Rittman Orchards in Doylestown. I spent the afternoon with Matt Rittman and we got farm nerdy.

Read below to learn more about the "spitter" apples, the terroir of cider, and how you can enjoy it in this week's Thanksgiving Beer Dinner. This week's beer dinner is Sat, Nov 13 at 6 PM. It is "virtual" so the pickup of your take home food and 6 pack is Friday and Saturday this week at your Fresh Fork stop. Preorder is mandatory.

This Week's Promotions
This week's sale are:

Caramelized Apple Onion Bacon Brats - We badly need an acronym for this brat. Regardless of what you call it, it is delicious. When I developed this recipe, my goal was to make a moist and sugar free poultry bratwurst. I started with boneless chicken and turkey. I added turkey skin for some fat, and smoked nitrate free bacon for salt and fat. To sweeten the brat, I caramelized 50# of onions in the tilt skillet and folded it into the 50# of meat. Finally, instead of water (which all sausage recipes have), I mixed in homemade apple sauce. This helps keep it moist and adds a balanced sweetness.

Try this brat roasted in the oven, pan seared, or grilled. It also smokes well and is even versatile enough to slice up at breakfast.

Usually $11 per 1.25# package - on sale for $9 this week.

Animal Stock - a winter staple. Stock is the basis of a good demi-glace on a steak dinner, mandatory to stew or braise a roast, essential for good soup, and the primary ingredient for gravy. It is also a great option to drink as bone broth - simply warm it and season with salt. Try our "all purpose stock," the Animal Stock, made of beef/pork/chicken/turkey bones. Sold by the quart. Regularly $8 per quart. On sale for $5 per quart.

Sauerkraut - $6 per quart Our farm-made raw sauerkraut is simply local organic cabbage and pink Himalayan sea salt. This is a refrigerated product and still includes the healthy probiotics of a fermented food.

Sold by the 32 oz quart jar, this kraut is a fraction of the price of other local brands and stores in your refrigerator for up to 6 months. Enjoy raw alongside a pork chop, stew it with mushrooms and serve with pierogis and kielbasa, or braise your pork roast with it.

Regularly $7.5 per quart - on sale for $6.

Apples - $3 for 6 ct. We have an nice selection of apples right now. Our price is already really low, so this isn't really a sale. Our regular price is approx $1 per lb. Be sure to stock up this week with:
Pink Lady Apples - a floral nose and sweet taste, a seasonal favorite
Red Delicious
Golden Delicious
Bent Ladder Cider
Sadly, we don't sell alcohol at FFM. The concept of a mobile grocery store setup in a parking lot, often on church property or at a school, in the evenings with no mailing address doesn't fit well in the liquor laws. Ohio City Provision, however, is the only place other than Bent Ladder's farmstead store where you can purchase Bent Ladder Ciders.

Regardless of whether this is pertinent to FFM or not, I thought my experience at Bent Ladder was worth sharing. I visited there last week to shoot a video for the Thanksgiving Beer Dinner. I spent the afternoon with Matt Rittman being farm nerds in his orchard and tasting AMAZING ciders.

Another great way to try their cider is to join us this Saturday for our 11th Annual Thanksgiving Beer Dinner. This year, our "beer dinner" will be virtual again and will feature one cider in addition to two beers.

The Water Wasn't Safe to Drink
I remember probably a decade ago visiting with a friend in the eastern panhandle of WV. He is a descendent of Samuel Washington (George's brother) and had a receipt book from George's purchases for Mt Vernon. I can't remember the details, but what I remember as shocking was that George bought literally a boatload of cider that fall. He bought it by the barrels to "nourish" his staff.

In that era, the water wasn't safe to drink. Low-proof cider was a safe option to drink. In fact, our very own Western Reserve was founded on the principle of every settler having his own orchard to produce apples that could be pressed into cider, fermented, then safely drank. This was a requirement for settlers to receive their land grants.

The Art of Cider Was Almost Lost
As sanitation improved and brewing of beer became more economical, cider production was on a decline into the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Beer, derived from malted grains like barley and wheat, could be grown and harvested in one growing season. Cider required a mature orchard, which could take 10 to 20 years to establish.

Then came prohibition. It all but buried the cider industry.
But Thankfully, Matt thought it was a great idea to plant spitters.
Cider, like wine, reflects the quality of the grower, the apple varieties, the growing climate, and the fermentation process.

Could you imagine making wine with just grapes? Not a chance. As consumers, we have come to expect certain characteristics from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Sadly, the commercial cider industry has determined that the consumer is ignorant enough to not think about these things. They have used hard cider as a way to press any old apple into cider, ferment it, and sell it for a lot more than fresh apple cider. If you have ever had a bad experience with hard cider, I encourage you to go back and try a craft cider from Bent Ladder.

Matt knows that good cider is made from the right varietals. Many of these are heirloom varieties from England and France that aren't commercially available anymore. These apples lack the disease resistance found in many modern hybridized apples and don't have the yields of a fresh market apple, like Honeycrisp or Gala.

These cider specific apples are often called "spitters." They are highly tannic, often bitter, and with just the right balance of sugar to ferment and provide a depth of character. Off the vine, these apples may look like crabapples and can have similar eating qualities. In the cider industry, varieties like Harrison and Dabinett are called spitters. Other varieties Matt grows include Kingston Black, redfield, calville blanc d'hiver, golden russet, and Newtown pippin.

Matt and his family have taken painstaking attention to detail and have planted their orchard with these low yield, cider specific varieties with the purpose of producing a true old world, artisan cider.
It's a Very Nice
One of the things I left Bent Ladder realizing is that apples trace their roots back to the forests of Kazakhstan, which immediately made me que up a joke from some terrible movie (Borat) from my college days.

"Matt, your cider, 'It's a very nice'". He immediately got the reference. A classic ice breaker if I might say so.

We laughed and popped the top on a 750 ml bottle of his Heirloom Cider. Heirloom is one of the four ciders in his "Heritage" collection - a very limited bottling of ciders made from these cider specific varieties. A few drinks in, and I twisted his arm into sparing some bottles for the annual Thanksgiving Beer Dinner.

This year, we will be pairing our turkey courses with a bottle of the dry, crisp Heirloom Cider produced by Bent Ladder. OCP is the only location, off of the Rittman farm, where you can buy these ciders. And this week, a full bottle is included in the pairing dinner offered this Saturday night.

Details of this week's Dinner and where to pick it up found at the link below.
Thanksgiving Offerings
Our turkeys and packages are selling fast. Tonight I'm going to attempt to recount the turkeys on pasture as we will likely need to shut off our order form by the end of the week.

Don't hesitate to reserve your turkey.

Full details on offerings, pricing, and more can be found at the order form below.

Winter Omnivore
Pork Shoulder Roast
Butternut Squash
Russet Potatoes
Apple Cider
Daikon Radish
Salad Radishes
Green Kale
Brussel Sprouts on the Stalk
Winter Vegetarian
Butternut Squash
Russet Potatoes
Apple Cider
Daikon Radish
Salad Radishes
Green Kale
Brussel Sprouts on the Stalk
Romanesco Cauliflower

For more recipes, visit our archive at https://freshforkmarket.com/recipes/