Fall Cider with Chef Terri

By Chef Terri Milligan / Photography By Chef Terri Milligan | Last Updated August 27, 2017
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Autumn Sundae

Nothing says fall like cider – even the hard stuff

The aroma of a crackling bonfire, a hayride and a cup of warm cider – Ah, it must be fall.

Nothing conjures up the feeling of autumn more than picking up a jug of fresh cider at a local farm market. That crisp taste of freshly picked apples is just waiting to be sipped and savored.

For those looking for a bit more kick from their cider fix, give one of our locally-made hard ciders a try. No longer living in the shadows of its cousin wine, hard cider is fast becoming a full-fledged member of the family. Deliciously complicated with various flavor profiles, hard ciders can be soft and fruity to bolder and even hoppy offerings. Naturally gluten-free, ciders make a perfect choice to use in cooking.

Although sipping a mug of cider makes the perfect treat for a fall day, try moving on from simply drinking ciders to cooking with them. The tart flavor of cider, both traditional and the hard-cider version, is a perfect addition to a variety of recipes, both savory and sweet.



Freshly-pressed apple cider is full of natural sweetness and intense apple flavor. Reducing the cider increases its sweetness and flavor, making it the perfect addition to a favorite dessert recipe.

Treat yourself to an autumn sundae made with apple cider caramel sauce. For an added crunch, make some homemade pepita brittle. Pepitas are the green-hulled seeds of a pumpkin. Available at most health food and specialty food markets, purchase pepitas that are unsalted when making your brittle. Break up the cooled pepita brittle into interesting edible shards to add a gourmet touch and make a simple sundae extraordinary.

Don’t limit this delicious apple caramel concoction to just dessert. Wake up to the taste of warm apples by serving waffles or pancakes with a generous drizzle of the warm apple caramel sauce. I am not ashamed to confess, I have enjoyed a spoonful or two straight from the jar tucked in my fridge.



The complexity of hard cider, with its various fruit flavors and aging processes, makes it a perfect ruse for a variety of recipes. Because hard cider shares many of the characteristics of wine – fruit flavors, tannins and acidity – it can be substituted for wine in many recipes. Ciders, like Island Orchard Ciders, are produced in the French tradition.

These types of hard ciders are known for their champagne-like quality, making them dry and crisp with a slight effervescence. For a different flavor profile, try using von Stiehl Winery’s Bourbon barrel-aged hard cider. This fortified blend of five varieties of apples is one of the newest offerings from the Schmiling brothers, owners of the Algoma-based winery. With aromas of almonds and vanilla beans, this hard cider benefits from six months of Bourbon-barrel aging. A splash of apple brandy adds extra depth to the cider.



Since hard cider can be easily substituted for wine, think of using it in most recipes that call for a splash of vino.

Yannique Purman, co-ower of Island Orchard Cider, grew up in France where wine was a staple in the kitchen. “I cook a lot with wine, just like my mother who lived in France,” explained Perman. “Almost any dish with wine as an ingredient can be replaced with cider. You get a new creation that tastes great because of the unique characteristics of cider.” Purman suggests selecting a cider that is from a fruit that compliments the dish. “Think about the type of fruit the cider is made from.

This will help you decide which cider flavor will complement your recipe. I also like to include the fruit the cider is made from in the dish,” she explained. When in doubt on which cider to use, Purman gravitates to the Island Orchard Cider brut apple cider, a classic hard apple cider with a smooth dry finish.

Try using hard cider as a marinade for roast pork loin. The marinade tenderizes the meat. Additional cider deglazes the pan after searing the pork and can be transformed into a delicious sauce. Don’t forget to roast a few apples along with sweet potatoes and shallots to enjoy with the autumn entrée.

Vegetables also get their turn enjoying a splash or two of cider. Combine two fall favorites, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, with a drizzle of maple syrup and olive oil. Give them a nice roast then add some crispy bacon along with a vinaigrette dressing made of hard cider, some bacon drippings, Dijon mustard and a little more maple syrup and olive oil. Add some of the kale that is making a late appearance in your garden, and you have a colorful and tasty dish that can be used as a salad or a side dish.

However you choose to cook with cider, remember the most important thing. Pour a glass for yourself before you start cooking. A good cider should be sipped and savored throughout the entire meal, including the prep!


Autumn Sundae with Pepita Brittle
Apple cider-infused caramel sauce drizzled on vanilla ice cream makes a perfect fall dessert. Garnish with homemade pepita brittle.


Use a hard apple cider-like Island Orchard Brut Apple Hard Cider or Von Stiehl’s Bourbon-Aged Apple Cider to both braise and make a sauce for this delicious autumn entrée. 

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