22 Nov Red Kill Mountain Homestead Farm
Wild apple trees spread their branches across a land that was once a farmstead filled with history of farming, fur trapping and tailoring. It is a special place where a random grove of 2,500 wild apple trees provide each year a harvest that now is captured and naturally processed by two apple farming pioneers in East Branch.
Red Kill Mountain Homestead Farms is the dream, the love, the business of partners Matthew Trattner and Ashley Rossi both transplants from northern New Jersey who together have brought the wild apple back from decades of oblivion. They have reintroduced products of a by-gone age by embracing the challenge of wild apple farming or as they call it “wild apple stewardship”, a trade they further refer to as “permaculture”, organic farming with a twist which they call farming by “utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems.”
On an old farmstead that spreads across a high ridge of Red Kill Mountain near Roxbury sits an apple grove first planted some 150 years ago, a grove that expands naturally in time. Each fall the apples are picked by hand and gathered to make products rarely available elsewhere. All made from wild, natural, left-to-nature apples with different tastes, sizes and colors. Apples in season are sold at the Red Kill Mountain Homestead Farm store and processing plant and kitchen on Burnwood Road in East Branch. In their kitchen and processing plant Trattner and Rossi make magic and produce apple molasses, apple spread, apple sauce and dried apples.
A bite on a piece of dried wild apple will bring a taste of a lemon-like tartness with complex flavors of cinnamon, mixed fruit with an apple base. It awakes your every tastebud, like tasting a very fine wine.
I have yet to taste the other products but know from the makers that their care and creativity have produced something very special, a taste not experienced by many and a taste once cherished by the earliest settlers of the Catskill Mountains.
Apple Molasses, also known as cider syrup, is the flagship product of Red Kill Mountain Homestead Farms. “We had-select and hand-harvest our wild apples and press them into sweet cider. The cider is then boiled down into a delightful apple molasses,” says Rossi. Apple molasses, Rossi points out is listed as an “endangered food” by Ark of Taste an international catalogue of “endangered” heritage foods.
Homestead Farms’ apple spread is made in small batches from hand-selected apples “with the skin on and then hand-blended with the farm’s apple molasses,” adds Rossi.
In wintertime Rossi and Trattner produce maple syrup from a sugarbush the couple cares for on their Red Kill Mountain apple farm. The syrup is aged in old bourbon barrels producing a sweet, mellow taste.
“We want to be good stewards of the land that is under our care.,” says Tattner of the couple’s approach to wild apple farming practices with its “stewardship” twist, all totally natural and driven by what nature brings. “We have as part of our mission to educate others through our products that this food source – wild apples – needs to be preserved and protected,” adds Rossi.
Red Kill Mountain Homestead Farms products come attractively packaged and come in 10 to 7-ounce jars or in the case of dried apples in a 7/10 ounce specially-sealed harvest-brown bag. Products may be purchased on the Red kill Mountain Homestead Farms website at www.redkillmountainhomesteadfarms.com. Products including fresh apples now in season can also be purchased at the farm’s “Milk House”, the official retail store located at 3432 Burntwood Road, East Branch, NY 13756. Store hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday by appointment. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ashley at (845) 674-3535.