Valley Bounty: Hot Buttered Cider

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I went looking for holiday recipes that feature local foods. When I reached out to Alane Hartley, who owns Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton with her partner Russell Braen, she was quick to recommend a family favorite: Hot Buttered Cider. “It is warm and satisfying and filling,” she said. “I think it’s representative of that spirit of late fall and winter.”

This year, Hartley and Braen are expecting 23 guests to join them at Park Hill for Thanksgiving, many of whom are traveling in from across the country. “It’s the holiday that we all like to celebrate,” Hartley explained. “We do a lot of reflecting, and we spend a lot of time sharing pictures and just talking.” Unsurprisingly, the group begins drinking fresh cider, pressed right there on the farm, as soon as the festivities begin. Hartley makes a spiced butter batter ahead of time. To serve up a mug of Hot Buttered Cider, all she has to do is heat up some cider and mix in a few teaspoons of the batter.

Thanksgiving has been an important holiday for Hartley’s family since they moved onto Park Hill twelve years ago, but it hasn’t always been as polished as it is now. “Our first Thanksgiving up here was pretty wild,” she explained. “We bought the orchard the day before Thanksgiving.” That first year, they had no choice but to cobble together a Thanksgiving dinner with what they could find. “The only place that was open was CVS,” she said, laughing. “I think our first Thanksgiving meal here was something like turkey Rice-A-Roni.” Fortunately, there was plenty of room for the dinners to improve and in the years since then, the orchard has become a natural place for the family to gather.

“I feel like we’ve been drinking Hot Buttered Cider forever,” Hartley told me. She remembers enjoying the beverage throughout her childhood in Wisconsin, and the recipe has been with her, even as the spices evolved over the years, her whole life. Even now, she likes to experiment with the recipe. “You can make it a holiday celebration drink by bringing out the sweet and citrus more, or you can make it a night-time hot-buttered toddy type drink, in which case you might not have quite as much sweet,” she said. If you like a little kick, you can add rum or brandy to taste. Either way, there’s plenty of local cider around and Hot Buttered Cider is a great option for a cozy, deep-flavored beverage during the holiday.

Hot Buttered Cider  Recipe by Alane Hartley

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 T honey
Apple Cider
Whole Milk or half and half

Cream together soft butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, black pepper, honey, and orange zest.
Heat up the apple cider and pour into a mug. Stir, whip, or froth 2 teaspoons of spiced butter into the mug until the spiced butter is melted. For an even creamier mug of cider add a tablespoon of whole milk or half and half into each mug and stir. Refrigerate remaining spiced butter.

Noah Baustin is the Communications Coordinator at CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)