Artisanal cider, tiny dairy farms, and duck-fat-fried apples: New England looks delicious
In the ninth episode of the PBS series The Victory Garden’s Edible Feast, Perennial Plate’s Daniel Klein travels the apple tree-lined roads of New England, where he meets dairy farmers in Maine and apple growers in Massachusetts. We’ll wait while you book your next vacation.
First, we go to Winter Hill Farm in Maine. Steve Burger and Sarah Wiederkehr and their two kiddos run a diversified dairy operation. Without the use of antibiotics or industrial dairy equipment, the cows, Steve says, “make really nice milk, just not a ton of it.”
Then, we’re off to a Bantam Cider near Boston, Mass., a craft cidery run by Dana Masterpolo and Michelle da Silva, self-described “underdogs” and “fighters” in a male-dominated industry. Making cider, they say, is easy — it’s making good cider that’s really, really difficult. “Every batch is different,” says Masterpolo. “If it weren’t, that wouldn’t be respecting the fact it’s an agricultural product.” The duo source their apples from local growers, too, from places like …
Tower Hill Botanical Garden, where we meet horticulturist Joann Vieira. At Tower Hill, apples are taken seriously — but not typical grocery store varieties (sorry, Granny Smith). Their diverse apples, like Roxbury Russett, Smokehouse, and Sweet Winesap, are sold to visitors at the garden and donated to local food banks. As Vieira says, “As things become more homogenized … we’re losing some of the diversity that might someday hold keys to solving world problems. The more we hold on to them, the better off we’ll be.”
Next, we learn to construct a cold frame for your winter veggies with Jessie Benzahl and Erik Sol of Green City Growers in Summerville, Mass. Erik shows you how to build the glass-lidded raised bed, and Jessie explains how to keep winter veggies nice and toasty through those frigid Northeastern winters.
And finally, Chef Carolyn Johnson makes a pickled apple salad. The apples are soaked in beet juice, which gives them a bright, red color, and the salad is dressed with an apple cider vinegar and mustard vinaigrette. For the next course, she makes duck breast with barley and duck-fat-fried apples and onions. Did we mention New England is kind of into apples?
Check your local listings for more episodes here.