Very Good store bought Apple Cider (really!)

I don’t blame you one bit if you rolled your eyes at the title since we all know that store-bought fruit & fruit
products don’t compare to homegrown/homemade. But after trying 6 (SIX!) different store-bought ciders (diff stores, brands, etc), I really have found one that (to me) is VERY good. So if you, like me, didn’t have enough apples to make your own, the following is definitely worth a try.

Zeigler’s Honey Crisp Blend Apple Cider. It may just have 1 honey crisp per 1000 Chinese apples or similar, But no matter how its made, its a great tasting cider (to me). It also has the fewest additives of all the 6 cider’s I’ve tried this year, with only one thing besides apples and water in the ingredients- a preservative called Potassium sorbate. But to me it taste just like a fresh apple

I found it at Publix Grocery Store. Jug says made in Lansdale, PA. I’ve tried hard to find some good cider and I was so happy with this I thought I’d share.

I think it’s good. Says on their site 100 percent usa apples never concentrate. I saw a store brand in the juice isle that read Apple cider and of course stamped on it was juice from China ( shake my head).

Now I like it even better knowing it is all USA apples. It says there are 2 apples in each 8 oz serving. Not sure if that means much. @Johnthecook might know this, but I’ve always heard that ingredients on a label must listed in order of how much the product contains- i.e. the product contains the most of whatever is listed first, the second thing listed is the second most plentiful thing in the product in so on. The first thing listed is Honey Crisp Apples, then “other apples” so maybe it actually is a lot of honey crisp- if that even matters. I just care that it tastes great.

One reason I’m making sort of a big deal out of some store bought apple cider is that- at least to me- almost all of the commercial apple cider I’ve tasted has an unusual and unpleasant taste- or more specifically an AFTER-taste. I would best describe it as sort of, mildly burning the throat and leaving a bit of bitterness. I suspect its the preservatives the others have, I don’t know. I wonder if anyone else has similar experience with commercial apple cider. If so, try the Zeigler’s Honeycrisp. Meanwhile, I sure hope I have enough apples to make my own cider next year!!

There’s a local McIntosh cider, unfiltered, that is really excellent in my opinion- fresh, delicious, only available for a little while and $10/gallon- worth every penny. Too bad it’s not more widely available.

We get Louisberg cider out of Kansas in my area. They sell both pasteurized and with benzoate added. I always buy the pasteurized as it can be fermented if I want. I like it. I think it is likely a mix with mostly Jonathans, but I don’t really know. Costs about $6-7 per gallon and is available for an extended period. I like the heavy plastic jugs the pasteurized version comes in and save them for my own juice. The benzoate version comes in milk jugs.

We made and froze our own cider when I was a teenager. I built a press in woodshop class. It was a lot of work but the cider was great. We used to freeze it.

Later I made 250 gallons a week at the orchard I worked at. I recall it sold for $3.50 a gallon at that time and we could use windfalls.

Now with the law against using windfalls and the issue of being UV or heat treated, most orchards around here do not even offer cider anymore. If they do it is usually filtered (Yuck) and tastes as bad as the so called apple juice sold in the grocery stores in glass bottles.

I finally found two sources near me that still produce good cider that is not filtered. One does a UV treatment and the other just has a warning label on the product that is may be harmful to
children and elderly as not pasteurized. One place sells it for $10/gallon and the other for $9.50 a gallon. I always stock up and freeze it to enjoy the rest of the year.

Not sure what Zaiger cider puts in for preservatives, but I have tried some at my local supermarket. Surprised to see on the label that it keeps for 60 days? It was just ok but I have not tried the version they are making with 100% Honeycrisp. Perhaps I should but I was concerned it would be far too sweet for my taste if not other blend of apples with it.

Around here we have many cider mills. I got cider this year that was made two hours earlier. One reason why i don’t grow apples, the local apples rock bigtime, I would rather buy them and grow stuff I can’t get.

@Spartan that is pretty neat. In my (deceased) grandfather’s barn there is an old, old cider press that is made out of wood and has a press with a metal wheel. I haven’t seen it in 30 years but with my new interest in fruit I’ve often thought I’d love to get it out and restore it. Its an antique for sure but has been inside a dry barn for probably 60 years so who knows what condition its in. I’m glad you found some good cider. I can accept that Zaiger may not be the best out there by a long shot, but as I said, it appealed to me because it was the best of the GROCERY STORE TYPES…which certainly isn’t as good as the “real stuff” but like you said, all the regulations these days make it almost impossible for pure cider to make it onto shelves in most groceries. Sad. Sometimes I wish the Gov’t would stay out of our lives, but I also know some people will argue we need their protection (not me!).

When I think of Michigan I think of Cherries, but I don’t recall you talking a lot about Cherries, @Drew51 , Do they grow in your part of the state? Do you grow them? Just curious.

I grow cherries yes sweet and tart. Well a couple trees of each. Mostly Michigan grows tart cherries in the northwestern part of the state. The west has blueberries. We don’t produce the most blueberries, but we produce the most Northern Highbush. I’m in the southeast. Mostly apples around here.Some peaches, most are on the west side too. Michigan seems to grow a little of everything, not a lot of one thing. Beets are huge, corn, etc.

I have to sort of take back my statement about apples. if you want the rare heirlooms you do have to grow them yourself. I’m just not a huge apple fan so it doesn’t interest me as much as say peaches. We grow a lot of them too, yet I do have a hard time finding good ones. I guess because apples have such an excellent shelf life it’s easier to find good ones at the market. Peaches have to be picked early just like in CA and the south, so hard to find perfectly ripe peaches. It happens once in awhile, but hard to tell what is good so I gave up looking for good peaches at the market. Even some farmer’s markets have bad peaches. Good decent apples though are all over. Some of the trees at the cider mills are extremely old. All the mills are over 100 years old or close to it. They sell apples too. About 5 huge apple orchards are within 50 miles of me.
My wife loves apples, so if/when I move and have more room, I will have to grow them too.I like cider over apples myself.

Thats very interesting about Michigan growing so many things. I suppose its because its so far north of me, but I never really thought of you guys having such a varied, vibrant agricultural industry.

BTW, Drew, I thought about you yesterday- I currently serve as the Chairman of out local senior citizens center and the board had to vote on where to take out next bus tour. The winner was Mackinac island in the UP of Michigan. I hate to say it but I had never even heard of it! If you are in the southeast then I suspect that is pretty far from you, but I’d still love to hear whether you think its worth taking 65 senior’s from Tennessee and Kentucky?

It’s expensive, but yes worth going. No cars, only horses. The history is very cool.
Make sure they bring you some fudge back! You can take a bus, but only to the ferry boat to the island. No cars allowed on the island. I’m up there a lot, and yeah it’s about 250 miles from me. My In-laws live in Cheboygan, which is about 10 miles away. A great Indian fish store is between Mackinac and Cheboygan, where you can get fresh white fish from the day’s catch. Awesome fish. Fresh or smoked. I always buy some when I’m up there.
I would look into what tours you can take etc. Also they have a retro toy store on the island. I love that store! My sister in law worked there for years. Now lives in Missouri. The view is fantastic around the island. Not much to do though. Not sure how well a large group of old people would do there? Shopping is one, some unique shops there. Museum, butterfly house. Walking tours would be worth doing too. Bikes are allowed. I would talk to the tourism people to see what you all can do for activities. Many historic buildings, like one church was dragged across the ice by horses.
Amazing what people did to live there. People do still live there, a small island really. In winter they probably get stuck on the island frequently, we do on our island which is a lot like Mackinac except it is 100% private. I closed my place for the winter.