Cider Mill - A Reason To Return to the Mitten
There's nothing better than Fall in Michigan - a brisk breeze and the scent of the Fall air, gorgeous colors of the turning leaves, college football, and most importantly - The Franklin Cider Mill. For me, the cider mill was the most exciting place to go growing up when school started - especially considering most of us were depressed that summer was over. The cider mill opens on Labor Day, and stays open until the first Sunday in December - frankly, too short of a period of time, although they really have no choice since the apples would be out of season and not as delicious! Fortunately for me, I was back in Michigan for a quick wedding and the idea of the cider mill only dawned upon me on the flight home from the city. Amazing.
At the mill, not only can you get delicious cider and DONUTS - yes, this is the only time I will eat a donut, because it is just that good - but, beyond this, you can get probably any apple product ever made, along with various honeys, meats, and cheeses. The best local apples are from the cider mill - my long lost favorite, the Snow White, was only available at the Cider Mill up until a few years ago until someone decided to mow over the only remaining apple orchard of it - and it's been gone every since. Note: if anyone ever finds a random Snow White tree somewhere, give me directions to it!
It's such an amazing structure (built in 1837), and not only does it take many of us back to our childhood, but even back in time. It is located in the "town that time forgot" after all. The mill is a towering wooden structure, with one of the biggest water wheels in the country, perched aside the Rouge River. The wheel itself, turned by the current of the river, is what powers the mill - you can even watch the cider being pressed and bottled before your own eyes. All of the apples are hand-picked, and early in the season at that to give the cider that crisp, refreshing taste.
|enormous, creaking water wheel|
Some people may say that there is no difference between apple juice and apple cider - I say they are completely wrong. The most important reason is as follows - apple cider is ground into a pulp, pressed, and bottled immediately, with no pasteurization (sorry Louis). Sure, they have to put warning labels on the bottles because of it, but this really creates a flavor unlike anything else. And the fact that Franklin Cider Mill still does it the old fashioned way as opposed to using stainless steel vats gives it an even better flavor.
|Apple pulp ready to be pressed|
Et voila! Our delicious amber elixir is complete! All you need is a donut, some little cups, a nice seat by the river, and probably an epi-pen in case you get stung by one of the thousands of bees that call the mill home during the Fall months, and you are all set!
It really doesn't get much better than this. The donuts are of the cinnamon-spice variety - not too sweet, entirely too greasy (I'm over it - once a year is okay!), piping hot, and crisp on the outside. The perfect complement to the crisp cold cider that truly embodies the flavor of fall.
|pretend olden days photo - the sadness of the cider mill in winter!|