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How to Throw an Amazing Apple-Harvest Party This Fall

How to Throw an Amazing Apple-Harvest Party This Fall

  • Photos by Mikkel Vang
  • Recipes by Shira Bocar

Take a cue from this family's annual cider-making party -- it's an all-hands affair, capped off with a feast.

Meet the Hostess

Jewelry designer Janet Mavec lives on Bird Haven Farm in Pottersville, New Jersey. Here, she wears earrings and a necklace she designed (her pieces -- an apple pendant, a sage-leaf necklace -- are inspired by what grows on the farm and can be seen at orchardjewelry.com).

At her family's annual apple-harvest party, the surroundings are delightful and the food is divine. But there are also more pressing matters to attend to, like turning the crank and making a whole season's worth of lip-smacking cider.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

A few days before their party, Janet and her husband Wayne Nordberg enlist volunteers to pick apples. (Kids are the best, since they can climb trees.) “The most delicious cider is a mix of many varieties, so you want to make sure each basket holds just one type,” says Mavec. Her signature applesauce tastes just like apple pie -- warm and fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Pie in the Sky

Look at that show-stopping crust! Paired with a rich, tender pheasant filling (chicken works, too), this rustic potpie is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Local Heroes

Over the years, as Mavec’s vegetable garden has grown, so has the party. Nearly everything she serves comes from Bird Haven Farm -- delicata squash roasted with sage and rosemary (all tossed with olive oil on a baking sheet) and a bright and crunchy kale-and-carrot salad.

A Sweet Encore

Mavec saves some apples for dessert -- a pie, a crostata, or this year’s apple-pear crumble. No matter what, the final course is always accompanied by a scoop of cinnamon ice cream and a slice of cheddar cheese from beloved nearby Bobolink Dairy.

All Together Now

How the Cider Gets Made

  • cider press

    The cider press, which came from Lehman's (similar models from $350, lehmans.com).

  • guest walking through meadow

    Guests walk through the meadow before sitting down to eat.

  • table ware in barn

    Mavec brightens the table with dahlias from her garden.

  • guests mingling in bar

    A bit of trivia: The previous owner of Bird Haven Farm was Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, who wrote many of the Nancy Drew mysteries. The barn where the meal takes place dates back to the late 19th century.

  • oysters and seafood

    Most everything is sourced from the farm, except the oysters from Fishers Island Oyster Farm, which have become a tradition because Mavec loves them (the couple crush the shells for mulch to add calcium to their fig trees).

  • pouring cider

    Fresh cider is poured into pitchers.

  • cider press

    The cider press, which came from Lehman's (similar models from $350, lehmans.com).

  • guests mingling in bar

    A bit of trivia: The previous owner of Bird Haven Farm was Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, who wrote many of the Nancy Drew mysteries. The barn where the meal takes place dates back to the late 19th century.

  • guest walking through meadow

    Guests walk through the meadow before sitting down to eat.

  • oysters and seafood

    Most everything is sourced from the farm, except the oysters from Fishers Island Oyster Farm, which have become a tradition because Mavec loves them (the couple crush the shells for mulch to add calcium to their fig trees).

  • table ware in barn

    Mavec brightens the table with dahlias from her garden.

  • pouring cider

    Fresh cider is poured into pitchers.