Roxy’s Best Of… Detroit, Michigan

The Best of Detroit, Michigan, from kid stuff (including summer camp) to restaurants to art galleries and shopping


The Franklin Cider Mill

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A favorite fall pastime is visiting a local cider mill, carving pumpkins, going on hayrides, and having a cup or two of freshly made apple cider.  If you’re in Detroit, there are many cider mills to choose from, but none more renowned than the Franklin Cider Mill, which has been around as long as Michigan has been a state.

For hundreds of years, apples have been supplying a delicious and nutritious fruit all over the world. Johnny Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed brought from Europe a small variety of apples. Farmers all over the United States took these varieties and combined two or more apples and named them what they thought appropriate.  Years ago Europe had as many as 350 different varieties. Today there are as many as 7000 different varieties throughout the United States. Approximately 20 varieties of apples are used for marketing purposes.

Washington apples are the most beautiful apples grown. The apples grown in the eastern states are the most flavorful. The reason being, the apples grown in the western states have lava rock in the soil from volcanoes over the many thousands of years; causing the soil not to have the richness that it needs.  Therefore they do not produce a very tasteful fruit.

The state of Washington leads in producing apples. They produce as much as four times as any other state. New York has always lead #2 and Michigan #3. Weather this year and the past two years has been exceptional for Michigan farmers. In fact, Michigan this year grew more apples than New York.  Those at the Franklin Cider Mill are proud of the apples grown in the state of Michigan; therefore they only use Michigan apples.

The Franklin Cider Mill, like other Cider Mills and orchards, has a reputation of having a lot of bees buzzing around, especially when families are trying to have a nice relaxing picnic. These bees are important to our reproduction of all fruits and vegetables.  In the spring these busy bees pollinate the blossoms that transform into nutritious and delicious fruit.  The more blossoms, the more fruit. Apple trees are not producing as plentifully as years fore; causing the cost of apple products to increase.

In 1837, the year Michigan became a state, the Franklin Cider Mill was completed after having been under construction for about three years.  The building was started by Ed W. Matthews who had come from New York, and had purchased a large tract of land around where the mill is now located.  Financial difficulties made it impossible for him to finish the project. It was then purchased by Peter VanEvery who completed the building, and conducted the business of grinding grain, or exchanging flour for grain, and in general, acting as miller for an area of many miles in all directions.

Peter VanEvery also had many others enterprises in and around Franklin that was then known as the Stoughton and Bullok Settlement. One of them was the Distillery, which was located across the road from the grist mill, (now the Franklin Cider Mill), and part of the old foundation is still visible there.

An interesting feature about the mill is that the original lumber was white oak, white pine and black walnut, all hewed and finished by hand. Except for the roof and siding which has been replaced over the years.

The original water wheel was an “undershot” type, and was probably made almost entirely of wood. The present water wheel, one of the largest in the country, was installed soon after the turn of the century. We know very little about the press except that is was shipped to this country from Europe in the early part of the nineteenth century. It is rated at nearly 90 tons pressure.

Fresh cider being poured into jugs for retail sale

Fresh cider being poured into jugs for retail sale

Fascinating info, huh?  All I know is that the Franklin Cider Mill produces the sweetest apple cider I have ever had, and the doughnuts, despite the grease, are annual favorite treats.  I’m heading home for Thanksgiving in two weeks, and right before the Franklin Cider Mill closes for the season, I’ll be there celebrating a 171-year Michigan taste tradition.

The Franklin Cider Mill is located at the corner of 14 Mile and Franklin Road, just west of Telegraph Road. Hours of operation are Weekdays - 7am to 6pm, Weekends - 8am to 6pm.

Thanks for reading.

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Introducing Roxy’s Best Of…Detroit, Michigan, Hosted by Matt Urdan

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Welcome to Roxy’s Best Of… Detroit, Michigan, one of the very first Roxy blogs not written by Roxy. I’d like to introduce you to Matt Urdan, best known in and around the blogosphere for his blog, Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta.