ELYRIA TWP. - Allen and Laurie Grobe`s cider is the apple of the state`s eye after five judges last weekend declared it the best in all of Ohio.
"There`s no secret ingredient," Laurie Grobe said Friday. "It`s just about picking the right apples at the right time."
|JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE|
|Grobe Fruit Farm's Gold Medal award sits next to some of the cider.|
The Grobes always have made their own apple cider at local presses and mills, and in 1991 they cobbled together all the necessary equipment to make it from scratch at Grobe Fruit Farm on state Route 113.
Years of experimentation to find exactly the right recipe paid off last Friday when their cider was chosen over 17 other competitors at the 2007 Ohio Cider Contest in Cleveland.
The contest was part of the Fabulous Food Show at the IX Center, and judges included Australian celebrity chef Jason Roberts, Giant Eagle nutritionist Judy Dodd, Patty Eilmann of the Cleveland Food Bank, Bruce Benedict of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Rick Allen of WDOK radio.
Laurie Grobe said her cider won because of its clarity, sheen and taste.
"The judges just loved the flavor. They said it filled their mouths," she said.
It`s the first time the Grobes have entered the contest, and Laurie said she`s already looking forward to defending her title next year.
Local runners-up include Burnham Orchards and Quarry Hill Orchard in Berlin Heights and Dodd`s Hillcrest Orchard and Rex Lees Orchard in Amherst.
The Grobes add nothing to the pulpy juice - no spices, no sweeteners, no alcohol and no preservatives. Instead, Grobe said, the secret to making a gold-medal-winning cider is picking the perfect blend of nine different apple varieties, all grown on their farm.
There`s a science to deciding exactly when the apples are perfectly ripe, she said.
They start with the scrap apples - "culls" - which aren`t pretty enough to sell.
When the cider season begins in September, the cider is always tart. But the more they mature toward the season`s end in March, the sweeter the cider gets.
It takes all day for the Grobes to wash, chop, squeeze, press and pasteurize enough apples to make 2,000 gallons of cider, Laurie said.
This year, for the first time ever, they also have the equipment to bottle the cider themselves.