Sunday, September 30, 2012

Four hills in the rain

An orchard on a crisp clear Fall day is a bit of country magic.

This luminous apple hangs in the mist at Gould Hill Farm.
Today was wet (though not very) but with some misty magic of its own. I seized the opportunity to visit four apple farms in a quest for fruit.

Another reward: less traffic on the highways and no crowds.

At Gould Hill in Contoocook N.H. I got a bag of Cox's (utility grade only) and some Nonpariels (review forthcoming). Gould Hill expects to have Ashmead's Kernel in a week or so.

Carter Hill in Concord did not have anything I wanted today, but is a charming spot.
Wet weather did not dampen the popularity of this rope swing at Carter Hill Orchard.
They grow a great assortment at Apple Hill, also in Concord, I bagged some Pomme Gris, sweet and nutty.
At Apple Hill Farm, this unadorned structure is headquarters to an imaginative collection of apple varieties.
Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury.
Gould, Carter, and Apple Hills! So on the way home I stopped at Cider Hill, an impressive operation in Amesbury (Mass.)

At all of these orchards I saw signs of fair-weather fun: playgrounds, a hay ride, nature walks. There was plenty of parking, surplus in the wet.

For me however the draw will always be the apples. Cider Hill boasts 75 varieties on tap; I saw more than a dozen for sale, including the unusual Arkansas Black and two varieties that are new to me (reviews forthcoming).
The hill at Cider Hill, with a photovoltaic array in the foreground. Many Massachusetts orchards are turning to solar power.
It's funny to buy Arkansas Black in September, but if I want them I'd guess I better get them while I can.

Except for Carter Hill, all of the orchards I visited press their own sweet cider and sell it unpasteurized. You'd need a separate blog to do that justice.

Rome was built on seven hills (and not in a day). For me, four hills in one day is plenty. As for the rain, it just makes the cider donuts taste better.

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