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Heading North for Donut Picking

September 4, 2012

Apparently, I’m all about the long game. This will be year three for the Tour de Cider Donut. I’ve long promised to make it up to Saratoga Apple, and now I’m all out of excuses. So this year we are headed north of the Mohawk. Maybe even far north.

Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of driving. And while five donuts doesn’t sound like much, believe me, that’s a lot of fat and sugar. But it’s for science.

Over the last two years we have cataloged ten of the region’s most beloved apple cider donuts. By month’s end we’ll add five more to that tally, and I’m hoping you can come with me and participate in this seriously fun annual tradition. Maybe next year we can head south. Eventually, I want to conduct a tour of champions. But that’s still years off.

Today, however, is the day I open up the floor to nominations. All the details will follow later. But I am looking at one of two potential dates.

For those who are new to this Tour de Cider Donut thing, let me give a quick background. A few years ago Stanford Steph suggested we go around and try all the different cider donuts from the local orchards to see which one was truly the best. I would have done it solo, but an intrepid group of eaters showed up for that first tour, and it was a ton of fun.

Since then the tours have kind of taken on a life of their own.

That first year I tried (but failed) to keep a relatively tight footprint based on the nominations. Ideally, we shouldn’t have crossed any bridges that first year. But such is the folly of youth. I felt compelled to visit a few of the more popular places in lower Saratoga County as well.

That means we visited Indian Ladder, Altamont, Fo Castle, Lakeside and Bowman. The winner was a close call between Indian Ladder and Altamont. Ultimately the judges split along stylistic lines. Those who liked their cider donuts with a crispier crust went with Indian Ladder, while those who preferred a softer, more tender donut sided with Altamont. In the end, Indian Ladder took it by a nose.

Year two was entirely east of the Hudson, and included for the first time a non-orchard stop. We visited a bakery that only produced a small batch of cider donuts seasonally, and I felt good about its place on the tour.

We stopped at Zachary’s, Goold’s, Golden Harvest, Samascott and LoveApple Farm. Golden Harvest walked away with the win without even breaking a sweat.

So where the heck are we going to go this year? Well, in part that’s up to you.

From the get go, people have been talk about Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville in tones similar to the fans of Indian Ladder and Golden Harvest. So without a doubt we’ll be stopping there to try their cider donuts.

But we’ve got four more slots.

I don’t want you to think about driving or the price of gas. We can try and find ways to carpool, and by that, I mostly mean recruit a car full of friends to come along on this culinary adventure.

What I want you to think about is who makes the best cider donuts. I want you to think about moistness, cider flavor, sweet spices, tender crumb, crisp crust, and sacks full of awesome.

I care not about where you went as a kid, who has a great country store, or which place has the best hay bale maze.

From what I’ve been able to suss out, I’ve got high hopes for:
– Hick’s Orchard in Granville
– Gunnison’s Orchard in Crown Point, and
– Eagle Mills Cider Mill in Broadalbin

People also talk about:
– Sutton’s Marketplace Cafe in Queensbury
– Liberty Ridge in Schaghticoke
– Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa

I’ve been to Riverview Orchards in Clifton Park and wasn’t impressed on my one visit. And then there are the places that are entirely off my radar. For example, I’ve never heard of Devoe’s in Clifton Park, but they apparently have cider donuts too. Maybe they are great and just undiscovered. And I’m sure there are plenty of other places that could stand their ground against Saratoga Apple.

Please tell me. I want to know. Mostly because this tour thing has become a compulsion. But also because the better informed I am now, the better the tour will be in the end. So submit your nominations in the comments below by high noon on Sunday.

If you can, try to hold Saturday, September 22 and September 29 for this shindig. It will be one of those two dates, and I have every expectation that it will be epic.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2012 9:44 am

    Ah yes, DeVoe’s donuts are good. But have you heard of Lakeside? A good cider donut for sure. Liberty Ridge are worth a try. The ones at Lindsay’s are worthy as well. (Lindsay’s is in CP.)

  2. September 4, 2012 9:59 am

    I am casting my vote for Hicks. Yes, this is where I went as a child, but what I find they do that most other places do not, is they do not serve you donuts that did not come straight from the fryer. This means you wait in line. And it can be a wait. But it is worth the wait. And, anyway, you can also grab some Slyboro cider while there. :) I will say earlier in the season (i.e. Sept) it is less crowded.

    The biggest downside is that it is a HIKE. It is a hike even from Glens Falls, but we all used to trek up there because, dammit, they have the best donuts.

  3. September 4, 2012 10:50 am

    Saratoga Apple is definitely worth a visit for the ancillary activities (Pick Ur Own Apples and Corn Maze) as much as for the sinkers. You should schedule this at the beginning or end of the tour so families with kids can allow extra time to explore.

    I don’t recognize any of the other proposed spots on your list but have you looked at a map recently? (that is a question) Broadalbin is a looooong way from the other spots which are clustered within a few miles of the Northway.

    My taster has decided to play Fall Ball so I’ll probably have to pass this year, but if something changes either of those dates sounds fine.

    • September 4, 2012 11:09 am

      Agreed. It may almost make sense to do Mohawk-West next year. (Or, this year, and mohawk-Hudson north next year.) Broadalbin is, indeed, a real outlier compared w/ the rest of these spots.

  4. September 4, 2012 11:11 am

    Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease do Sept. 29 — I really want to go, and I absolutely can’t make the 22th (I’m getting married that day)! *crosses fingers*

    I can’t get over the complaints of “oh, it’s such a long driiive”… last year, THAT was a long drive, miles and miles into south nowhere. It was an agonizingly long trip into complete freakin’ nowhere… but science, y’know, all for a good and tasty cause. This year doesn’t look like it’ll be all that bad at all, even if we do end up in the North Country a bit.

    The problem here, though, is that you’ve already covered the best Saratoga-area spot I know of in the first round: Lakeside Farms. Actually, this looks to be more of a North Country round than a Saratoga round, seeing as you also already covered Bowman’s and Fo’castle, and those are the other major Saratoga-area orchards.

    • September 4, 2012 1:47 pm

      For the record, my note was more the difference btw Broadalbin and, say, Crown point. It is an outlier. It won’t stop me, more an observation!

      KB- congrats on the wedding! I knew it was coming up soon, just didn’t know the date. I am a Sept wedding person myself (mine was 9/17), and I am quite fond of the Sept. wedding! :)

      That said – either date works for me. I had tentative plans for 9/22, but nothing that can’t be moved to later in the day/Sunday. I am running a 5K on 9/30, but that simply means 9/29 is pretty open for me. Sugar coma would ensure a necessary early bedtime. :)

      • September 4, 2012 3:07 pm

        True — maybe Broadalbin should be saved for a western-area run next year. I’m sure there are good spots out toward Rotterdam/Fonda/etc. as well.

  5. September 4, 2012 11:40 am

    No nominations, but just want to throw in a vote for September 22. I have yet to make one of these, and if the date for #3 is September 29, my streak will go unbroken.

  6. -R. permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:45 pm

    While all this sounds lovely, hasn’t the NYS apple crop been hopelessly compromised by the late frost we had in spring? By all accounts, it seems most orchards have perhaps only 10-20% of their crops intact and most “u-pick” places have decided against u-picking this year, since there’s not much to pick. I’m curious how this agricultural plight will effect the quality and availability of the donuts on parade.

  7. Go Phish permalink
    September 4, 2012 4:43 pm

    It’s not an orchard, but you simply must, must try them from the Pumpkin Patch in Schoharie.

    http://www.pickapumpkin.com/

    IMO the best by a mile. And I can’t believe Indian Ladder won that one year, IMO they’re extremely overrated.

  8. Sarah permalink
    September 4, 2012 5:23 pm

    It’s a little bit of a trek, but I recommend Reggie’s Veggies, a farm stand in Greenwich. The donuts have a great flavor and perfectly crisp crust. Moist, sugary, and highly addictive. The stand is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but the middle of nowhere is beautiful this time of year.

    Not much of a web presence, but you can get contact info here: http://www.freshnation.com/vendor/profile/7266

  9. christine permalink
    September 4, 2012 5:39 pm

    This is snarky and sarcastic but I just can’t help myself… Since I can’t get over the stop at Stewarts for the egg sandwich tour, why not stop in at Price Chopper for an apple cider donut? It makes as much sense as the stop at Stewarts….

  10. September 4, 2012 9:00 pm

    saratoga apple great views great freaking donuts they grow their own vegies too and sell at local farmers markets! Its worth the drive and its only 10-15 minutes from 87. And to make it even better they sell local products from other farms as well.

  11. September 5, 2012 8:55 am

    Saratoga Apple and Hicks.

  12. uncle ernie permalink
    September 5, 2012 10:52 pm

    try george’s farm market ciders—–very tasty–not greasy. located wade rd ext, latham–opposite targets.

  13. Kate D. permalink
    September 7, 2012 3:33 am

    I never knew I had so much (too much?) experience with cider donuts, but I can recommend Sutton’s Marketplace, Hick’s Orchard and probably my favorite – Gunnison’s Orchard in Crown Point.

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