Chatham-Kent's Delhaven Orchard in Blenheim captures the first place award for the best sweet cider recently at the Ontario Fruit and Vegatrable Convention in Niagara Falls. The Ontario Cider Competition is sponsored by the Ontario Apple Growers. This is the second time time they have received the first prize but also have two second place and three third place awards under their belts in the last ten years the contest has been held. The winning recipe is a blend of four varieties of apples. They grow 22 varieties of apples so it is not difficult to come up with new combination but they usually stick to the same recipe. However,depending on the amount of dryness in the growing season the apple batches vary in sweetness which makes it necessary to change the quantities of individual varieties. It is a real science to come up with the winning taste and one the owner Hector Delanghe and his son Mark take great pride in.
About 2 to eight percent of the apples they produce are put toward the cider. The crops are hand-picked and those with blemishes or marks are designated for cider making. Those of us who drive out to Delhaven for our apples are very aware of the excellent quality of their apples on sale at their store or in the grocery stores.
Owner Hector Delanghe who started the business in 1958 said they started offering cider in 1978 when the orchard was hit with a hail storm. Production begins about the first of September and the cider is sold to customers from September 1 until the end of May. Delanghe and his son Mark who work on the recipe together are the first tasters and when they are happy, the five staff who pick the apples give their opinions. This year Delanghe said four out of the five employee involved picked the winning batch.
The cider can be purchased in jugs for freezing but they remind their customers to always pour a little out of the jug since the contents will expands when frozen and you do not want to lose the contnets of the whole jug.
. There are about 25 mid-size cider producers in Ontario and only 15 are allowed to enter the contest. Congratulations Delhaven Orchard on your great accomplishments. We are very fortunate to have you here in Chatham-Kent, adding more value to our great community.
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