Over the fast few weeks we’ve been harvesting, pressing and processessing Gravensteins, the sweet and tart apple that made Sebastopol famous. I’ve teamed up with local cider brewer Isaac Alexander to develop several styles of Gravenstein hard cider. Together we have started the Sebastopol Apple Project (SAP), which is dedicated to preserving hertitage apples and apple culture. I’ve also been making lots of apple syrup, delicious on pancakes, ice cream, or in cocktails and smoothies. Our favorite Gravenstein cocktail is the Gravito.

Isaac picking Gravensteins at Felton Acres. This tree had large, beautiful fruit despite no thinning. We realized it is just below where the chickens were processed for 2 years, so it got fertilizer and water every time the chicken processing area was sprayed down.

The easiest way to make syrup is to fill a crock pot with fresh cider, then leave it uncovered on high till it is 1/7th of its original volume. Use a clean ruler to measure the depth of the juice. The syrup can be used instead of cider in cocktails like the gravito. We water bath can this syrup in small jars for use year round.

I picked up a copy of “Cider” by Annie Proulx, which covers both the history and the making of sweet and hard cider. I highly recommend the book. It contains lots of good advice plus amazing facts like this: “John Adams, second president of the United States, drank a tankard of cider every morning before breakfast, and lived to the age of 91.” (Cider, Storey.com)