Much like many of our producers, the Smucker Farms team woke up well before the roosters crowed on a recent Thursday morning. However, unlike most days where we commute to the store, three of our staff made an early morning trek up to Lancaster County to visit some of our producers. We toured the county to meet with Kauffman’s Fruit Farm, Misty Creek Goat Dairy, New Holland Coffee, Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn, Olde Heritage Root Beer, Mary Ann’s Bakery, Lapp’s Toys, Christina Maser, Stockin’s Apiaries, Oasis at Bird-in-Hand’s market and a few members of the Oasis co-op.
Throughout the next couple weeks look out for “Live from Lancaster County”, a series of blog posts in which we will describe the team’s adventures in Lancaster County and share what we learned during our visit.
Check out the first installment below:
KAUFFMAN’S FRUIT FARM
We started the day off at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm where apples from the family’s nearby orchards were being processed for the brand’s cider and snitz. While we watched the apples being pressed to release their saccharine juices, the Kauffmans explained that the only ingredient that goes into their cider is this juice – there is no added sugar or other sweeteners. Certain apples are chosen because of their natural sweetness, which you can taste in every pint of Kauffman’s apple cider. This same practice is used when making apple snitz. Dried naturally-sweet Golden Delicious apples are used for Sweet Apple Snitz while the more tart Granny Smith apple is used for the Tart Apple Snitz. In addition to learning about these processes, we also saw where it all starts: apple tree saplings. That day the family was preparing to plant a batch of new saplings in the Kauffman orchards, where the first fruit trees were planted by A.L. Kauffman in 1911. While these trees will likely live for 13 years or more, they will only produce fruit for three years of their life!
What started as a small fruit stand in the early 1900’s has grown into a thriving family business that includes a market, production of their own food goods and 100 acres of orchards, all of which are managed by third, fourth and fifth generation Kauffmans. In addition to their cider and snitz, you can find Kauffman’s apple and pear butter at Smucker Farms.
OLDE HERITAGE ROOT BEER
We are going on the record: Olde Heritage Root Beer is the best we have ever tasted. This refreshing beverage contains only four ingredients: natural root beer concentrate, yeast, water and sugar. Unlike many mass-produced overly carbonated root beers, Olde Heritage relies on the natural carbonation that occurs from the yeast fermentation during the bottling process. This is the same method that is used to create the much softer bubbles in premium champagnes. According to Naomi, the producer of Olde Heritage, other than this light carbonation, the most important part of making good root beer is the water. The key is monitoring the mineral content of the water and ensuring that it is a certain temperature when the yeast is added. Even Naomi’s children who have been spoiled with this amazing drink can recognize when these vital measurements have been off. As the days grow warmer, cool down at Smucker Farms with an ice-cold pint or half-gallon of Olde Heritage Root Beer.