Of Fruits And Local Labors
As we’ve quickly progressed into the summer season here in New Hampshire one of frequent questions in the tap room has been “where are we getting local produce we are using?” The short answer is lots of places, many of whom we’ve sourced from during our homebrew projects before we opened Ancient Fire. We have local favorites as well as new-to-us farms and orchards from around New Hampshire that we are expecting to get great produce from.
One of our favorite farms to work with is Sunnycrest Farms in Londonderry. Only short drive from home, we’ve visited the farm stand and the PYO areas at Sunnycrest many times! Over the years we have picked strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. When apple season comes, we’ve coordinated with a group from our local homebrew club to buy cider in bulk from Sunnycrest. We’ve also brought home peaches, apples, cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, honey, maple syrup and of course, cider donuts!
The recent releases of Wooderson’s Lemonade were made with strawberries from Sunnycrest. Our love for the strawberries from Sunnycrest goes back to 2004 when we first started bringing large amounts of them home to use in fermentation. The local season coincides with the official onset of Summer (June 21), which is also our wedding anniversary. Margot can definitely entertain with stories about picking berries in the early mornings of some of our first anniversaries. We fermented at least one beverage with strawberries every year from 2004 to 2013, and in some years we were able to taste a vertical (consecutive years) of a strawberry wine that we won a lot of medals with!
Earlier this year we sourced fresh dill from Country Dreams Farm, a fellow Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market vendor, and used it in the house-made cheese spread on the food menu. We grow herbs at home as well, but not always dill, which typically gets used to make pickles anyway. Mmmm, fresh pickles. We might need to find some to add to the menu.
But summer isn’t over yet, and some of the best produce has yet to start arriving. So what do we have planned?
Pears – having gotten pears from another great Londonderry destination in the past, Mack’s Apples, we are hopeful we can source them here in 2018.
Wine Grapes – we are working on sources and should have some exciting announcements soon!
Cider – we will be sourcing from several farms including Apple Hill Farm, Gould Hill Orchards and Sunnycrest.
Peaches – we will be sharing peach meads soon, and some will have been made with 2017 peaches from Lull Farm.
Chili Peppers – most of our fans already know we love using chili peppers, and fresh, local, and even homegrown ones are fantastic to use!
Plums – it has been a couple years since we used plums in a wine, but that wine went from a sleeper to all gone once all the medals were counted! We like to use golden plums in particular, and sometimes along with delicious white wine grapes. The plums we made the decorated wine with came from Hackleboro Orchards. We’ve also gotten golden plums from Elwood Orchards in the past, also right in town for us.
Pumpkin – we’ve already got some pumpkin squirreled away in the freezer, and we have a riff on a cider we made a couple years back in mind for this.
Maple Syrup – we have 2018 syrup from Four Saps Sugar Shack on hand already. We’ve also sourced syrup from Ben’s Sugar Shack in the past as well.
We also expect to work on some herbed mead recipes as we head into the cooler months, and some of these will feature herbs and hops we grew at home.
If that isn’t an exciting list of ingredients to work with we surely don’t know what one would look like!
Keep your eyes on our Facebook page for all of our product announcements so you can catch some of this local produce on tap at Ancient Fire.
Margot & Jason