Quite a cast of apples rotates through Oregon’s Willamette Valley during harvest season. Between late August and early December, nearly 40 varietals are processed in stages to make Bauman’s Farm & Garden fresh, unsweetened apple juice.
“Every year is different — whatever the weather gives us,” said Christine Walter, one of many family members at the working farm and agritourism destination in Gervais, Marion County, northeast of Salem. The blend in any jug or bottle depends on which apples are being picked and pressed during successive phases of the harvest.
“The earliest varietals are Gravensteins and Sansa, then the crisps, like Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink,” Walter said. “Then Ginger Golds, Yellow Delicious and my favorite, Corail.” The last harvested “are the true cider apples and the heritage and higher-tannin apples: Newtown Pippin, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Braeburn, Spitzenburg, Dabinett and Kingston Black, just to name a few.”
“We blend as many different types as possible, selecting for high acids, a pH of 3.4” to suit American and Northwest palates, Walter said. “The target taste is tangy, savory. Umami is a rising trend.” Although labeled “cider,” the apple juice is nonalcoholic.
But using her Lewis & Clark College biochemistry degree, in January Walter launched a Bauman line of hard (alcoholic) ciders, available on tap in Portland metro and Willamette Valley restaurants and bars and at the farm.
Walter’s Austro-Hungarian great-great-grandmother and two sons from North Dakota homesteaded a few miles away in Woodburn, where Walter’s grandmother still lives. After five generations, “the working apple orchards are on Grandma’s farm — the original Bauman homestead and the Century Farm — settled in 1895,” Walter said.
The landscape looks rural enough on approach, but this is a big, multifacted operation, reflected in its tangle of interconnected website links. While the grounds are open to visitors year-round, Bauman’s Harvest Festival runs part of September and through October.
The uninitiated may stagger, disbelieving, through the 57 acres of mazes, forts, towers and labyrinths — laser tag! animal barn! jumping pads! — plus ample retail and tasting. “During peak season, we get 13,000 cars per day,” said Walter.
Bauman’s Apple Cranberry Warmer
Prep: 5 minutes plus simmering | Very easy
8 to 10 servings
1/2 gallon Bauman’s Farm & Garden Pure Apple Cider or other unsweetened 100 percent apple juice
1 cup Everest Farms or other fresh cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
Pour the apple juice into a large pot on the stove. Rinse the cranberries and add to the pot. Toss in the cinnamon sticks whole.
Heat over medium until simmering; then reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until cranberry skins split, releasing tannins and flavor (about 10 minutes).
Ladle into mugs and serve. The cider can simmer and mull on the stovetop for an hour.