Cider House Rules

14 Oct 2011

For me, autumn has always brought a sense of new beginnings and a giddy anticipation for exciting things to come. A new season, another school year, the excitement of fresh weather holidays….and now on the farm, cutting the maize and baby calves on the horizon. Something in the air changes, the wild Irish wind swiftly begins to kick up the all the newly fallen crimson leaves and proceeds to fiercely scatter them about the garden. Invigorating.

Without fail, at this time of year, I find myself consumed with sentimental expat memories of visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards on a crisp autumn afternoon. A very popular fall tradition across many parts of America is to venture out of the city to admire the new colour and eventually arrive at an apple farm, pumpkin patch, or combination of the two. These family farms are transformed into literal jubilees of fun from about mid September to November, offering apple picking, pumpkins of every shape and size, freshly-baked apple pies, crisps or cobblers, chargrilled apple sausages, hay rides, wood-fired pizzas, small farm animal feeding, and the absolute best: mugs of warm apple cider with fresh cider donuts on the side.

It was a yearly ritual for myself and family or friends to take at least one trip to a country orchard each October, usually on a Sunday after brunch and the papers.  For me, the best bit was always the cider and donuts. American-style apple cider is something I have not (yet) come across in Ireland. Far different from what we consider cider in Ireland, this cider is not an alcoholic beverage. Pure apple cider is a made by crushing and pressing apples into a dark, cloudy juice and is never homogenized or pasteurized so it is much unlike the pressed apple juices found at markets or shops. I’ve also enjoyed a mug of cider with mulling-style spices, which is delicious. Spiced or plain, warm or cold, the flavor is sensational.

Last weekend, my father-in-law began harvesting apples and pears from the small orchard at the farm. He brought in a good amount to share with us. He also said to help ourselves to more because there is an abundance this year. When I went out the have a look the following day, I was astounded at the amount of fruit on the trees.

My first thought was: let’s make apple cider! This way we can use a good bit of the produce and at the same time, I can share a wonderful American tradition with my family here in Ireland.

We did our research and found a small apple press, which has just arrived! So, hopefully by this time next week we will be sitting by the turf fire, sipping apple cider and nibbling on warm cider donuts.

And then, autumn will be complete.

Slan Abhaile,


Photo by Imen McDonnell

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15 Responses to “Cider House Rules”

  1. Krista says:

    Hello! I am an American visiting friends in Ireland this Christmas. I am going to make a few traditional American holiday dishes to help out with the Christmas feast, and I wanted to make Hot Mulled Cider. I found your website when I started to wonder if I could find American-style cider in Ireland! I know you now have your own apple press, but I just wanted to share that I found this farm up near Dublin that presses their apples into “juice” – but it sounds like they use the same process as American cider. It is Llewellyn’s farm, and they sell their products at Superquinn’s:
    You may have already found this info – but I thought I would let you know. And, I love your blog! And am jealous of your move to Ireland, and to a farm! :). I moved to Spain a few years ago, and have been visiting Ireland at least once every year. 🙂

    • imen says:

      Oh yes, I know David Llewelyn. Lovely pressed apple juice, same as our “cider” indeed! Enjoy your Christmas in Ireland!!!!!! xoxo

  2. […] few weeks ago, I blogged about one of my favorite autumn traditions in America: sipping apple cider and nibbling on cider […]

  3. Oh I hear so much about American cider that I hope one day I’ll have an opportunity to try it.

  4. Catherine says:

    Cider doughnuts – delicious! I’m a big fan of warm appley drinks – Llewellyn’s stall in the Temple Bar market sell mulled apple juice with a shot of apple brandy added. So warming.

  5. Hi Imen
    I have only just discovered how to leave a comment on I Married an Irish Farmer, when I used the URL to access you I couldn’t see how to do but if I go in via a link it pops up straight away. I really love your blog, the food photography and styling is amazing. I hope the apple cider is a great success. With good wishes B

    • imen says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely, lovely comment! And, I am glad you figured it out….I love this template, but it is a bit confusing when it comes to leaving comments. You are not the first to mention this B. best wishes, Imen xx

  6. Móna Wise says:

    I miss the pumpkins the most. We made apple cider
    with a beautiful old Italian grape crusher when we lived
    in Ohio and there is nothing like the taste.
    I hope you are making enough to share Imen?
    I’ll buy a bottle ;0)

  7. christine says:

    I too miss really great cider and this time of the year in the US. Very well written post my dear. xoxoxo

    • imen says:

      We made it and it is sooooo delicious! Really does make the autumn feel “right”. Thanks for your comment Christine. x

  8. Tim says:

    We have a lovely local orchard, that, actually uses apples in their donuts, not just cider… Nothing says fall, like a trip to the orchard… and cider goes well with cheese, too…. always a great blog to read. Love to share it with friends, to ‘show ’em how it’s done’….

    • imen says:

      Tim, you are such a kind, kind person. Your words inspire me to keep on blogging…really appreciate it! Mmmm. scrumpy apple donuts sound divine. Thank you for your comment =)

  9. Kristin says:

    Apple cider, cider doughnuts and a turf fire – talk about the best of both worlds!

    • imen says:

      It is indeed Kristin….you’ll have to come visit sometime with the family. We can sip cider by the fire =)xx

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