Traveling to Hacklebarney Farm does not involve over the river, but it certainly requires through the woods. The Chester, New Jersey farm is extremely popular for its wood-pressed apple cider and cider doughnuts. But based on the lines wrapping around the quaint barn, it appears their pies have a very loyal following. My original intention was to buy one half-gallon of apple cider and a basket of local apples. What was I thinking? In order to secure the cider, I had to first find the end of the line and wait my turn for access into the farm store. We inched along like lemmings, with the folks ahead of me repeating the same mantra, “Pie.” What was all the fuss about?
The farm store is situated in their circa 1853 barn with the bakery adjacent. Within the span of the 45 minutes (I know, crazy) that I waited on line, I observed towering trays of hot apple cider doughnuts enter the farm store through one door, and within moments, empty trays exit the same door. It was somewhat frightening. Once inside the tiny confines of the market, I was up close and personal with the pie table. I have to admit, they were impressive. For a commercial enterprise, despite the pie press that saves the pastry crew the effort of rolling pie shells, (imagine that) the pie assortment was tempting. And fresh, with steam still escaping through their lattice topped crusts. What I found staggering, was that people were buying more than one pie at a time. One of each flavor and placing orders for Thanksgiving. That is an awful lot of pie.
A separate counter was designated Cider Doughnut Central and again, folks were buying doughnuts by the dozen. I didn’t even have to walk through the market, the crowd just moved me along, until I had reached the cider cooler. Sheepishly, I selected my little half gallon of cider and paid.
The cider was truly delicious and provided the key note to my cider caramel recipe. I’ve been thinking about it and if I had it to do all over again, I might just consider entering the exit door of Hacklebarney’s tiny market in order to purchase a solitary jug of cider. I know, Rule Breaker. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I might be ushered to the back of the line and sentenced to 45 minutes of waiting.