Vermont is falling for apples

It’s that time of year again.Fall in Vermont means beautiful foliage, crisp cool air and, of course, apples — lots of apples.It’s the season for apple picking, apple cider, apple pies and apple farmers. UVM’s Amy Trubek, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, contributes to the abundance with her own heirloom orchard. Trubek and her husband own Windfall Orchards, an organic apple orchard near Middlebury College that boasts 200 trees with 80 varieties. When they first bought the property,  Trubek said it wasn’t  a planned commercial venture.”It was sort of a big hobby,” Trubek said. Her husband, who has a background in horticulture and gardening, thought bringing the orchard back would be a great challenge, she said. The orchard requires serious annual attention in order to be a success. Maintaining an organic apple orchard takes effort, since Trubek said it’s difficult to avoid using at least some type of pesticide. As far as an economic investment, apples aren’t such a bad idea.”[The crops] are really hearty,” she said. “Basically, there are apples that are better for eating out of hand, apples that are better for baking with and then apples for cider,” Trubek said.Windfall Orchards is only one of many orchards that press and make their own cider.”There are lots of ways to make cider,” she said. “How you do it depends on the scale of what you’re pressing.”Larger farms use hydraulic methods, Trubek said. However, Windfall Orchards uses a hand-crank method. The main principle of all apple pressing is grinding the fruit and then putting it in special pressurized fabric layers, which extract the juice, Trubek said.Allenholm Farm also makes their own cider, but they use hydraulic methods, owner Ray Allen said. “Apple pressing really isn’t difficult,” he said. “It just requires the right equipment for the job.”  The key to good cider is the right apple selection, he said.Allenholm Farm has a store located in South Hero, according to their website, but Trubek’s orchard sells cider and apples at various nearby locations.  “Most of our apples are sold at the farmers’ market,” she said. “They are sold to Middlebury College, Kitchen Table Bistro and American Flatbread.”Luckily for Vermont college students, these orchardists carry out their work every year. “My memories of apple picking with my friends and family are priceless,” UVM freshman Mariah Landry said. “What would fall be without them?”