When it comes to autumn in Mid Michigan, “awesome” doesn’t even begin to cover it. However, it definitely defines what you will find at Almar Orchards in Flushing. From their organic apples to their fresh cider and honey, this orchard is well worth the trip off the beaten path. There is nothing quite as Michigan as apples in the fall. Fresh, crisp, Michigan apples welcome us to fall like nothing else. And the orchards they come from – with their delicious in-store options, fresh ciders, and hard ciders make them even better.
One of our favorite organic orchards in Michigan is Almar Orchards and Cidery in Flushing, Michigan. Not only is it located in the perfect place to pick up regularly, and not only are they some of the best donuts I’ve ever eaten (and I pride myself on being something of a donut connoisseur), but their hard ciders are out of this world.
About Almar Orchards and Cidery
Almar Orchards has been around for generations. While Jim Koan is the current owner, his family has been raising apples since the mid-1800s. However, it’s only been in the last 20 years that this farm has been producing some of the best organic apples in the state. When asked why he switched from conventional farming to organic, Jim answered that it was simply because the customers asked. What started with just a few acres to meet customer demand turned into over 150 acres of 100% organic farmland
Walking with Jim through his orchards is not only beautiful but a lesson in history and science. Did you know that there are 1,000 varieties of apples in the world, 50 of which can be found at Almar Orchards? And while Jim and his family have been around for over a hundred years, they are still innovators in the orchard industry. He works with Michigan State University in agriculture research and is breeding a new variety of apple that may remain crisp months after picking, well into December.
More than the science and the history, it’s the passion that Jim has for organic farming and the farm that truly stands out. Not just to me but to customers as well. Jim explained that he has seen generations of families come to his orchard, all because of their mission of “Quality Over Quantity.” Delicious donuts and cider are a draw for old and young alike.
The environment at the orchard is relaxed and inviting. One of the family’s two dogs will most likely greet you at the entrance if they’re not already sitting in the parking lot. While there are no hayrides or petting zoos, there is a large playscape for children to play on while parents enjoy their cider and donuts. Quite honestly, the staff is so friendly that you feel like you could talk to them forever.
Almar Orchards and their chard cider are also the third leg of the “Thirsty 3,” which is proudly advertised as a “Not-So-Serious Racing Series”. Finishers of the Scrumpy Skedaddle receive a commemorative glass, medal (which doubles as a bottle opener) and a delicious serving of their hard—or soft—cider. Complete with pancake breakfast, it’s another great tradition that highlights the beauty of this orchard.
J.K.’s Scrumpy Organic Hard Cider
We were first introduced to Scrumpy by a friend of ours who chose it because it was organic and had none of the fillers that conventional ciders have. Not only are organic growing practices important to us for environmental reasons, but health issues make it important that there not be extra fillers in food and drinks. Scrumpy hit the bill for those things and then knocked it out of the park for flavor.
Our favorite is the Rye Barrel Aged. Hard cider is aged in rye barrels absorbing some of the flavors. It’s delicious and less sweet than the Original Scrumpy’s cider while offering a slight whiskey flavor.
And we’ve been hooked ever since. Whenever we’ve had the chance to fill up a growler, we choose the Rye Barrel Aged Cider, and also something new to try, most recently the Patriotic Paw Paw.
What Exactly IS a Scrumpy?
While the word “scrumpy” could have a few meanings, all having to do with cider, most often it refers to cider that is made from several apple varieties mixed together during the fermentation process. While hard apple cider uses yeast for fermentation, cider is more like a wine (fermented fruit) than a beer (fermented grain).
This 100% organic, sulfite- and preservative-free hard cider is the best I’ve ever tasted. Jim explained that they don’t rush the hard cider process by heating it as many others do. They let it steep with yeast at 55 degrees, letting it take the time it needs so that the flavors just pop on your tongue. With five different flavors, you’ll be sure to find one that suits your taste buds.
More Than Just Hard Cider
But Almar Orchards and Cidery isn’t just about hard ciders.
While many come for the fresh cider, donuts, and local honey, there are many other reasons to visit Almar Orchards. They sell Eden Organic products in their store, as well as organic butter and milk. They even sell Michigan made organic tortilla chips.
Haybaler’s is an incredibly popular apple cider vinegar-based drink. It used to be made to give a little extra energy to farmhands during, you guessed it, hay baling. Now you can enjoy the same energy and health benefits bottled for you at the farm.
Their organic fresh ciders are amazing. You can buy this by the jug, or in the summer you can enjoy it in slushie form. And come fall and winter, you can enjoy it warm with cloves and cinnamon.
Almar prides itself on growing the best varieties for its organic growing practices and then stocking the store with varieties you might be able to find anywhere else. Almar is one of the largest organic orchards east of the Rockie Mountains.
They also raise pastured pork using organic growing principles and sell it in the store. Fresh bacon, sausage, and pork roast from pigs who’ve been eating apples and been able to root around like they were meant make delicious and tender meat.
Natural sweeteners – honey from our friendly neighborhood pollinators, and maple syrup from our sugarbush – are available in the store and are sourced directly from the farm.
And did I mention the donuts? They are so moist and delicious. The cider donuts are perfect on their own or for dunking and the cinnamon sugar donuts offer just that perfect something extra.
Almar Orchards and Cidery – A Family Farm
The 5th generation of the Koan family is currently running this amazing family farm and orchard. They have been a part of Michigan and their community since the mid-1800s.
As interest in their hard cider has grown, so has their property. Jim and his family now have a large facility where they have moved their cider production. However, this large barn is still in the making and they don’t plan to stop with just hard cider. When it is completed, the facility will also contain a small farm-to-fork restaurant featuring barbecue items on its menu.
One of the unique things about Almar Orchards is the pigs that Jim uses to maintain the insects at the orchards. These hogs live primarily on a diet of apples, and all that sweetness of the apple renders some of the sweetest organic pork you’ll ever find. They will be the main feature on the menu, and you’ll be able to enjoy your ribs with a glass of cider and sit out on the patio while your kids enjoy themselves on the playground.
All ciders are produced, bottled, and labeled right on the farm. Apples are in the Koan family blood and they are definitely sharing their gifts and their amazing farm products with the world.
It’s definitely time for you to try Scrumpy for yourself. Head to their taproom and farm store in Flushing, MI, or grab Scrumpy from your local store. Either way, you will not be disappointed!