It was the first weekend of September, but I had been longing for this moment all August. The meandering drive north to Schuylerville was tease enough, reminding me of my country upbringing — the crisp clean air, winding roads that cross over creeks, dappled sunlight through the trees. The leaves had yet to turn, but you could feel that they were ready to burst with color any day now.
When I stepped out of the car and onto the grounds of Saratoga Apple, a popular orchard and farm market that attracts people year-round but dominates the fall season, I was enveloped by only one smell — the cider doughnuts.
Now, there were bins full of apples and squashes, shelves lined with honey, jams and berry pies, fresh cookies and coffee by the register, and a deep metal pot filled high with fragrant chili. There were employees manning the cider press in back, a sweet, sharp smell unto itself. But the smell that hits you when you first open your car door is distinctly and wonderfully all doughnut.
It’s no secret that we take autumn seriously here in upstate New York and, well, all across the Northeast. Our foliage is enviable. Our scarves are not utilitarian, but fashion accessories. If we could infuse pumpkin spice into our water system, we probably would. But I would hazard a guess that nothing instills autumnal nostalgia in us quite like the aroma of a sweet cider doughnut.
Deadline is Friday
That’s why on Oct. 1, the Daily Gazette is going to pay homage to this delicious fall treat with our first-ever Cider Doughnut Taste Test. A panel of judges — four Gazette employees and one guest judge — will sit down and taste cider doughnuts from as many local orchards that are willing to stop by the newspaper’s headquarters at 2345 Maxon Road Extension that Tuesday morning.
We’re asking our readers and fellow cider doughnuts fans to nominate their favorite local orchard to participate. Orchards must be within the Gazette’s coverage area, which comprises Schenectady, Saratoga, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Albany counties. We also encourage an orchard or business to nominate itself.
Judges will score each doughnut on its cider flavor, sugar, texture, taste and overall quality. If an orchard wishes to bring cider to wash down the doughnut, we won’t stop you.
Deadline for entries is Friday at 5 p.m. To nominate yourself or your favorite orchard, contact Gazette reporter Bethany Bump at 395-3107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.