About 100 years ago, settlers in central Washington State realized that the hot summer days, cold snowy winters, rich volcanic soil, and pure Cascade mountain water were perfect for growing apples. Today, this part of Washington is the country's premier apple-growing region, with more than 100 million boxes of apples harvested each year.
But not all apples are sold whole. Juice and cider are important parts of the apple industry, both commercially and in the roadside stands you find as you travel the region. Fresh cider is raw, unfiltered apple juice that contains pulp and sediment. Apple juice is juice that has been filtered and pasteurized to stay fresh longer.
Typically, sweeter apples are used to make hard cider, a fermented, alcoholic beverage made of apple juice. There are four types of hard cider: sweet, sharp, bittersweet, and bittersharp. Hard ciders were developed in England and are still very popular there. The earliest record of the fermentation of apples can be traced back to the Romans in 55 BC, when they reached Kent, England, and noticed villagers drinking an alcoholic drink made from apples.
At the cache site, the orchards contain varieties of French, English and old American cider apples, which are often unsightly and a challenge to eat fresh, but are perfect for making hard apple cider, carrying intense aromatic flavors that shine through fermentation and aging.
To make hard cider, tree-ripened fruit is carefully crushed and then fermented. As the cider ages through the cold snowy winter, the bitter tannins that made the fruit so edgy while fresh give way to soft, complex and surprising flavors that linger and evolve on your palate.
The cache: The cache is in plain view and is available 24/7, placed with the permission and help of the business owner. There is no fence, but please do not enter the orchard itself.
This cache was originally part of the 2016-18 Cascade Farmlands GeoRomp, a 12-cache series that showcased the agriculture, recreation, and scenery of north-central Washington, with pathtag prizes for finishers. Each cache had a different theme and highlighted a different community: Leavenworth, Plain, Peshastin, Cashmere, Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Entiat, Chelan, Manson, Orondo, Waterville, and Quincy.