WE SAY HELLO TO AUTUMN IN THE FORM OF A HUMBLE FRIED GOOD:
…the famous fresh apple cider donut from B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Old Mystic, CT. It can be recognized by its densely soft interior covered in a crunchy cinnamon and sugar exterior that fills your nose and taste buds with everything that feels like Fall. They come like clockwork every year, always fresh and always delicious. If you are lucky, you’ll score one hot off the machine. This family owned business has been churning these delights out for generations along with, you guessed it… all things apple. We’re talking sweet New England cider (try the slushy – another favorite), a variety of hard ciders and apple wines, apple butter and baked goods.
Every year come September, we wait with great anticipation for Clyde’s to open their doors. In fact, those in-the-know become a little jealous to learn that their friends made it there before them. It’s not just Clyde’s seasonal treats that keep us returning year after year, it is also the joyful buzz of the property, a true celebration of New England living. There is a sense of wholesomeness, warmth in your belly, and a grin you can’t seem to wipe from your face. The experience starts with the scent of cider that greets you from the street, and continues around the property where you can crunch, sip, and sample yourself into a Fall frenzy. Many travel near and far to celebrate their own version of the Clyde’s Cider Mill tradition.
So what else makes them so special you wonder?
The Clyde family has a past full of rich history starting with Benjamin F. Clyde who first purchased the mill in 1898 when his ciders became hugely popular among locals. Just prior to buying the property, Benjamin started his career making hard ciders and vinegars because sweet cider was not yet possible due to lack of refrigeration. It is now the country’s oldest steam-powered apple press; the last of its kind still in operation. In 1994, just shy of its 100th anniversary, it was named by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as one of the few Mechanical Engineering Landmarks worldwide. I wonder what Mr. Clyde would say if he knew of the legacy he left behind? Benjamin’s great-great granddaughter, Kristen, says her favorite part about going to work every day is opening the same cider mill door as her family before her. “He would be proud and amazed at how far his cider mill has taken them,” says Amy.
The ride along the back roads sets the tone for their unassuming location amongst residential homes. Tucked in the back of the property, behind the main house, is an out building where you’ll find the famed press, a little sliver of history in Southeast Connecticut. Stop by on a weekend for a live demonstration and experience a truly extraordinary piece of equipment. You won’t soon forget the sound of this workhorse: massive leather belts hum, gears whir, and steam exhales heavily through her whistle.
After the demonstration, enjoy a complimentary apple wine or hard cider tasting or browse the two on-site shops with local produce and gifts. When you have made your rounds, take a seat and relax on their wraparound porch, catch some of their outdoor entertainment, and stay a while.
Cheers to Mr. Clyde and delicious tradition,