Rucker spices up fall tradition with homemade cider
October 19, 2017
The rows of apples seemed endless. It was late September and the weather was a bit chilly. Colored tags dangled from the branches telling indicating the type of apple available— Honeycrisp, Cortland, Haralson, or Honeygold. Apple picking is a cherished rite of fall, a wholesome and fun family outing, and a throwback to a simpler time. Apple picking is an autumn tradition for senior Sabrina Rucker and her family–they go to the orchard annually–but this year, they tried something new: brewing their own apple cider. The warm, slightly acidic drink embodies the colors and flavors of fall, but for the Ruckers, it represents even more. It meant taste testing the bad and good apples, long hours of labor, a messy cleanup job, and most importantly, the joy that the first sip of their perfect apple cider brought the family.
“Every year we went apple picking […] we always had leftover apples. Even if we made apple tarts, apple pie, apple cider, apple strudel, apple everything, we still had leftover apples,” Rucker said.
Brewing homemade cider made the Ruckers pick with intention, and offered a creative way to use up all their applies.
“[We] went to the apple orchard specifically to find the perfect combination for apple cider. It was a great way have a goal in mind and do something with my family,” Rucker said.
The Rucker’s have experimented with apple cider brewing in the past, but this year, they were seriously committed. They bought special glass bottles, deliberated extensively over the ideal combination of apples to use, and spent five laborious hours brewing.
Rucker gave thanks to the University of Minnesota and their Agricultural Experiment Station for engineering the secret ingredient for her cider: the Honeycrisp apple. Rucker’s perfect cider combination used ¾ Honeycrisp and ¼ Haralson. For her, the difference between the two apples was what made it perfect.
“The Haralson was super sour. I couldn’t eat it without making a face because it just hurt [my] mouth, but it made a really great combination with the Honeycrisp because it was such a sweet flavor and to top it off, we added some cinnamon. It was delicious,” Rucker said.
Apple picking is tradition that brings joy to many Minnesotans, and homemade cider adds another layer to the quintessential fall experience. For the Ruckers, apple cider brewing required many long hours of work and preparation, but it also added a little more spice to their fall days.