Yes, I will say my roots run deep in the mitten state. Even though my Midwestern life near Mighty Mo has overshadowed that long ago childhood, I still have fond memories of this time of year in Michigan. And if you asked what my roots are, I would tell you oddly enough to look up because you’ll likely find some red fruit dangling from them. September was always a particular month when you had grandparents who owned and operated a fruit farm. Although fruit farming indeed was an ever-growing business, you never knew what the season ahead would give you, and you always had to have a plan. I will always remember the winter days my grandparents spent discussing what the next growing season might bring and how to make it even better.
So I suppose in 7-year-olds eyes this memory stuck out as a pretty cool marketing concept: My grandmother would place a big stuffed scarecrow at the entrance to where she sold apples. The scarecrow held a basket (intended for kids) and a sign that said to take an apple. By giving one away, you might sell more. Smart lady.
For more than 50 years, my grandparents grew dozens of varieties of apples, cherries, pears, peaches, and plums. They greeted repeat customers from cities as far away as Chicago and Detroit and even the states of Ohio and Wisconsin.
Our visits to the farm would include the usual routine of hitting Lake Michigan beaches, klomping through the Holland shopping scene, and of course fishing the ponds. My grandfather always had the knack of finding new places to add to our list of to-dos just outside his small town of Fennville.
So, when a new business in your neck of the woods crops up, you go sightseeing. And when you come upon something golden and delicious, it’s just right that you share.
Virtue Cider is nestled along Michigan’s Cider Coast, offering a righteous array of ciders using old world methods that produce a unique cider, unlike many others. This is not the cider I grew up on. You must be 21 years old to enjoy.
Best thing ever was walking up to the entrance past huge crates of apples. The fragrance was an utter blast from the past. Great first impression.
Great hip feels to the place, too. Lined up barrels of cider. Liked the decor. (Always a sucker for great graphic posters.) They are pretty cool here at Virtue Cider.
Virtue Cider also offers a nice selection of tastings. And I will confess I liked them all. Gramps was always partial to the cherry one.
Four visits later, including a special delivery from my folks, and we are down to our last growler. While the Mitten, Prince Hal, and Lapinette were among our purchase favs, the award-winning Percheron was our pick for this upcoming recipe. Want more? Feast your eyes on this beauty of a recipe!
When in Michigan, visit Virtue Cider and taste what I mean. Pretty righteous cider.
Virtue Cinnamon Cider Bread w/Dutch Apple Butter
Yield 1 loaf
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 12 ounces Virtue Cider - Percheron
- 1/4 cup cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare standard loaf pan size with non-stick cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add all together: 2 tbsp. of the melted butter, reserving 1 tbsp. For later, maple syrup, and the hard apple cider. Stir till combined. Add in the cinnamon chips.
Cinnamon chips can be found during the holiday season in the baking aisle next to chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and then drizzle remaining melted butter. Bake in middle of the oven for 45 minutes. Cool on rack before serving for 10 minutes.
Enjoy with a smear of Dutch Apple Butter and a glass of Virtue Cider!
Dutch Apple Butter
- 6 apples, peeled, cored and quartered (about 3 pounds)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider or juice
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Chop the 6 peeled, cored and quartered apples into small chunks and place them in a saucepan. Add 3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider or apple juice (can be reconstituted from frozen), 2 to 4 tablespoons the sweetener of choice (agave syrup, honey or sugar), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer, often stirring, for 1 hour. The apples should be very mushy.
Remove cover and simmer for another 1 to 2 hours, frequently stirring, so the fruit doesn't burn. The mixture will get thick and turn dark brown, from the caramelized sugar.
When you stop cooking is up to personal preference. Again, the picture shows apple butter which was cooked until it was shiny, dry and thick like jam. You can always quit while it is still soft and a bit runny.
Recipe makes one loaf with two cups of apple butter.