If you live in Maine, it’s practically a law that you must consume apples and cranberries in the fall.

I have a love-hate relationship with both. Love the apple flavor in apple cider, but often find it too lip-puckering tart. Love cranberries, too, but wish there were other ways to enjoy them besides being paired with poultry or dumped into random baked goods.

Here comes Ricker Hill Cider to the rescue. This summer, after more than 200 years of apple farming, the family that owns Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner decided to start making hard cider. So far they have developed three canned products, only one of which is hard cider: Mainiac Gold, made with Golden Delicious apples and a blend of other golden varieties.

Their other two ciders are McIntosh Blend, a carbonated sweet cider, and Cran-Breeze, a lightly carbonated apple-cranberry blend made with apples and cranberries grown on the farm.

I tried the Cran-Breeze and was pleasantly surprised by its not-too-tart but also not-too-sweet taste (despite 30 grams of sugar in one 12-ounce can, not far off from many sodas) and balanced blend of apple and cranberries flavors. The apples carry the drink, but the notes of cranberry are strong enough to sing through. The light carbonation is refreshing, just a tickle on the tongue.

I noticed (as did a friend who tried it) that the drink becomes more tart the lower the level gets in the can. Does the cranberry half of the cider sink to the bottom somehow?

The suggested retail price for Cran-Breeze is $1.17. Look for it at most IGAs and Hannafords (where we paid $1.19 per can) throughout the state, at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester or Bow Street Market in Freeport.


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