The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown

BURKITTSVILLE, Md. (AP) — Apples have a cherished place in American values. From Johnny Appleseed to apple pie, the United States wouldn’t seem the same if apples had not appeared on the plates and in the cups of our forebears.

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Patty Power, co-owner of Distillery Lane Ciderworks in Burkittsville, said American pioneers didn’t grow apples for food.

“Originally, apples were grown to drink. They weren’t grown with the expectation of just eating them,” Power said. “When they kept the cider long enough, it would turn, and they would drink hard cider.”

Power and her husband, Rob Miller, carry on this tradition at their farm, where they operate the only hard cider-making facility licensed in the State of Maryland. They produce more than a dozen blends of cider using more than 40 varieties of apples they grow on their property.

Ciderworks will open their cider-making season with a party this weekend.

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“Our first-press festival will be Sept. 1,” Power said. “We’ll have music all day. We’ll have Civil War speakers. Our beekeeper will come and do a demonstration. We’ll have tables set out. It’s a fun time.”

Hard cider is like wine, she said, except the fruit is apples instead of grapes.

“All of the apple (juice) is full of sugar, and there’s natural yeast in the air everywhere,” she said. “So if you just let it sit, it will ferment. So basically what happens is the yeast eats the sugar and converts it into alcohol.”

Distillery Lane’s ciders range from 7 to 8 percent alcohol, and some are carbonated. The farm also sells fresh cider and fresh apples, she said. But hard cider is its featured product. Visitors can taste samples at First Press of the Season.

“We’ll be doing our regular tastings of the hard cider. You can buy a glass of it or you can buy a bottle chilled,” she said. “So you can buy a bottle and sit out on the lawn and listen to music.”

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