Heirloom harvest

Cider-makers converge on Scott Farm to celebrate the Kingston Black apple

DUMMERSTON — In honor of the Kingston Black, the “one apple to rule them all,” five cider-makers from four states will come together at Scott Farm Orchard on Sunday, Sept. 24, from noon to 4 p.m., to showcase their hard ciders made with this highly-prized heirloom apple that is sparsely grown in the U.S.

Hard cider enthusiasts have the opportunity to meet Scott Farm orchardist Ezekiel Goodband, cider-makers from Eden Specialty Ciders of Newport, Farnum Hill Ciders of Lebanon, N.H., Slyboro Ciderhouse of Granville, N.Y., Stormalong Ciders of Sherborn, Mass., and Whetstone Ciderworks of Marlboro, as well as Chelsea Green Senior Editor Ben Watson, author of Cider Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions and Making Your Own, who will be available to sign books.

There will be six or more Kingston Black hard ciders to taste, along with local food pairings.

Kingston Black apples are among the 125 varieties of heirlooms grown at the Scott Farm Orchard. There will be some, along with other bitter cider apples, available for those who dare to taste these inedible varieties.

According to Goodband, “Kingston Black is one of our most popular hard cider varieties; people get in line early in the summer to reserve this apple for their hard cider making.”

A British heirloom variety, Kingston Blacks contain the three ingredients necessary to make a well-balanced cider: tannins, acidity, and sugar. Their skin, a deep red color, accounts for the “black” in their name, and gives their fresh juice a distinctive ruby color.

Festival co-organizer and co-owner of Eden Specialty Ciders, Eleanor Leger, said in a news release that “what distinguishes the great ciders of the world is their use of 'bitter' apple varieties that provide tannic structure. Kingston Black is arguably the most famous of these mostly inedible varieties.

“At Eden Specialty Ciders we've been incredibly fortunate to have worked with Scott Farm to source these special apples for our ciders. This fall marks our 10th season of collaboration, and we can think of no better way to celebrate than to put on this festival dedicated to the cider variety that rules them all when it comes to heritage ciders, the Kingston Black, and the few, brave makers who feature it in their ciders."

The Kingston Black Festival marks the first of its kind in New England, according to a news release.

According to Scott Farm and Landmark Trust Operations Manager and festival co-organizer Kelly Carlin, “We've wanted to host a festival like this for a long time. Cider-makers from all over New England, and sometimes farther, come to the farm to buy our apples because we grow so many hard-to-find varieties.

“Cider apples do not bring in as much money as other apples since they often aren't good for fresh eating, so not a lot of orchards grow them. We grow a dozen hard-to-find varieties that are just used in cider, so we get lots of enthusiasts coming here in the fall.”

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