It’s hot. The family has just spent a long, exhausting day in Niagara Falls (or Ontario’s Garden in Norfolk County http://www.norfolktourism.ca). Everyone is tired. Everyone is thirsty. You’ve run out of juice boxes. What cold, refreshing drink can perk everyone up?
The Cider Keg, located in Vittoria, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Erie, can now provide kosher travellers with refreshments on the road. In the cider business since 1990, owner Cheryl Peck said she just needed a “push” to get the product kosher certification. “We had a few requests from customers who wanted a kosher product,” she explained. “The MK-Canada’s Kosher Certifier had met us at various trade shows, and when I made the decision to ‘go kosher,’ I called them up.”
Apple cider differs from apple juice in one key way. “Apple juice is made by reconstituting apple extract with water,” explained Ms Peck. “Cider is pure juice, straight from the tree, to the apple press, to you.” Cider tends to be darker and cloudier than apple juice, as it undergoes less straining and filtering than the apple extract used in apple juice. The cider is “flash pasteurized” at 170˚ for ten seconds; this keep processing to a minimum, yet makes it safe to drink while maintaining the “fresh off the tree” flavour. The Cider Keg prides itself on its safety standards; they undergo both federal and provincial inspections, and have one of the highest ratings in the business.
The Cider Keg apple cider is made of a blend of six different varieties of apples—but not always the same six varieties. The types of apples affect the flavour, sweetness, and acidity level of the beverage. “We use the best apples available each season,” said Ms. Peck. “We try to use Ontario apples as much as possible. The apples come from our farm, as well as from our apple grower’s co-op.”
Cider is available approximately 10 months per year, depending on the quality of the apples in a given year. There is generally no production in August, as the apples are not ripe enough to pick and press. Most ciders, including The Cider Keg Apple Cider, are generally sold locally; it’s not a product that travels cross-country. However, as anyone who has enjoyed pure apple cider can attest, it’s a product worth going out of your way for. In the winter months, the cider is only available at Uncle Tom’s Farm, the company behind The Cider Keg. During the summer, however, you can find The Cider Keg Apple Cider at The Apple Place, 99 Queensway East, in Simcoe, as well as T & T Supermarket stores across the GTA, including Toronto, Markham, and Vaughn. Once you’ve tried apple cider, plain old apple juice will never taste the same again.