A Crisp Fall Day at B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill
Fall is definitely my favorite season in New England and one of the reasons is because of apple harvest season. Whether it’s picking apples, drinking apple cider, or enjoying the apple harvest festivals I just can’t get enough of the delicious fruit. Brandon and I each have our favorite variety of apple (Honeycrisp for me, Fuji for Brandon) and we usually go apple picking a few times from August to November. If you’re an apple lover like us and are visiting Connecticut in the fall then B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill is a place you should definitely check out.
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill has been selling cider since 1881. The mill on the property that still presses apples today has been around since 1897. The mill and store are only open 4 months out of the year, from September 1st until late December, but they are well worth a visit.
Cider making demonstrations are performed in October and November on the weekends and the mill is packed with visitors during that time. The demonstration takes about half an hour and warm clothes are recommended because it can be very drafty and cold, even inside the mill. Despite the chilly atmosphere, you can’t beat the smell of fresh juice being squeezed from a few hundred apples!
The workers performing the demonstrations are just that: workers. They’re not there to explain what they’re doing or the history of the mill as they’re pressing apples but they will answer your questions if they aren’t busy at the moment. The mill itself is the size of a very large pool table and is divided into two equal size squares. There is the press over one half and the apple chute on the other half.
The demonstration begins by funneling chopped apples down a chute and onto a large tray covered in cloth. The mushy apples are shifted around until the layer is flat and then a wooden grate is placed on the apples. Another layer is added in the same fashion and then a third and final layer of mushy apples is placed on top. Each layer produces about 25 gallons of delicious cider.
After 3 layers of mushy apples are stacked the mill table is spun around so that the apple stacks are now under the press. The workers use the press to squash the apples and the holes on the bottom of the table funnel the juice into a large wooden reservoir. There was so much juice in the apples that it was in danger of spilling over the side of the table and the aroma was so delectable.
The pressing process takes about 10-15 minutes and during this time many people came and went. This is a good opportunity to wander around inside where you can see various artifacts of the mill from the last century or ask questions to the mill workers.
After the pressing is done the table is spun again so the apples are back under the funnel and the mushy apples are carted off to be fed to beef cattle.
The cider mill has a large general store that sells hot mulled cider, wine, syrup, jams, fresh doughnuts and other local products. The old grist mill has also been converted into a little gift shop with other souvenirs like shirts, handmade soaps and postcards. There is a large wraparound porch with chairs where you can enjoy your doughnuts and hot cider as well as picnic tables. Hard cider is also available for purchase but cannot be consumed on the property.
The Verdict: The cider mill isn’t an outing you could spend all day doing but it’s free and the kids will love the doughnuts, cider, and press demonstration. It’s definitely a unique experience but not something I would drive a long distance just to see. However it’s less than 3 miles from the coastal town of Mystic so if you don’t live close by then you could make the cider mill part of a day or weekend trip to the area.
What to Try: The mulled cider, apple cider doughnuts, and apple pies are the most popular products sold at the mill and for good reason. My favorite drink is the mulled cider with caramel and it’s not served too hot so you can enjoy it right away.
When to Go: If you want to see the mill demonstrations on the weekends I recommend arriving about 45 minutes before the demonstration. This gives you enough time to visit the store and grist mill and allows for some time to take pictures of the mill before it gets crowded. After the demonstration is when the general store tends to be packed with people and the checkout lines can be very long.
Child Friendly? Older kids will enjoy watching the apple press demonstration but it couldn’t hold our toddler’s attention the way that cider and doughnuts could. Kids aren’t allowed to sit on the shoulders of parents to watch the demonstration so arrive early to pick a spot in front, otherwise they won’t be able to see a thing.
Pet Friendly? No