Editors Note: We are pleased to welcome Mark to the So Good team! Mark is an Upstate New York native that learned to cook at the knees of his Mother. Since then food, beer, wine  and spirits have become his major outlet for creativity and stress relief. When not drinking in the kitchen he works from home as a professional geek and helps to raise his family.

It’s fall, and in many parts of the country that means it’s time for apple harvesting. Apple harvesting means apple pies, apple fritters, apple doughnuts, apple cakes and apple cider. It also marks the beginning of another season of making that beautiful amber liquid into a variety of alcoholic apple beverages.

Growing up I had a friend whose dad made hard cider every year, and every year, some of said cider made its way into our under-aged mouths. We also learned a valuable lesson about the difference between hard cider and Apple Jack but that is another tale. There was no such thing as a commercial hard cider that was readily available. The only way to get a hold of it was to know someone who made it.

Fast forward 20  odd years and there are a wide variety of commercial hard ciders available, both mass produced national and international brands, and smaller regional or local varieties.

Walk into any store that carries beer across the country and you are likely to find Woodchuck, Strongbow, Woodpecker or Hornsbys. Dig a little deeper and you might find Blackthorn or Magners. If you are fortunate to live near any kind of apple producing region I’m sure you can branch out and find a local producer making hard cider or apple wine right in your backyard.

In addition to being a tasty beverage for consumption, hard cider and its cousins, apple jack and apple wine, make stellar replacements for wine or beer in many recipes.   As a braising liquid with your favorite cut of pork it is tough to beat hard cider.

Embrace fall this year and bring a little hard cider into your life. Try a few varieties until you find one that suits your palate.  Do some homework ahead of your purchase. Me I will be visiting the scene of many youthful indiscretions and doing a vertical tasting of my friends fathers cider that he has made over the past 10 years. I can’t wait.



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