The land of Stowe is covered with big orchards and farmstands, and most of them are jammed to bursting in October. Derby Farm is the exception: it's a quiet little barn, on the right hand side of the road as I make my way home along Route 117. It's not so big, and not so fancy. But it has two important things going for it:
1) They don't pasteurize their cider.
2) They have the best native yeast I have ever found.
Hence, my annual recipe for hard cider:
1) Buy half a gallon of cider from Derby Farm.
2) Put it in the fridge.
3) Ignore it for a month.
4) Rescue it when the bottle is visibly bulging, before it explodes.
The result is thick and fizzy, very real and viscerally apple-y in a way that bottled hard cider never is. Knock on wood, I've never had a bottle go bad on me. I only get half a gallon each year (I just don't have room to make more), but opening that bottle is one of November's highlights for me...