it's apple season, witches | getting to the core of what makes Frecon Farms great
Steve Frecon (pronounced "Fray-con") is the orchard manager at Frecon Farms, a third-generation fruit farm in Boyertown, PA. Founded in 1944, Frecon Farms started as a wholesale fruit operation, and has grown to add a retail store, UPick orchard, and an award-winning craft hard cider operation.
The team at Frecon Farms continues to champion fruit diversification while remaining committed to growing the finest fruits in the region. We’re proud to report that the local apples found in our Roasted Autumn honeybar are from Frecon Farms.
We caught up with Steve to learn more about the farm and autumn’s favorite fruit: the apple.
hg: where did the name ‘Frecon’ farms come from?
steve: Frecon is our last name, and it’s French from what I understand. My family settled here around 1913 and the farm was established in 1944.
hg: favorite apple?
steve: Jonagold. They’re the perfect balance of sweet and tart. I also like my apples cold.
hg: how many varieties of apples do you grow?
steve: we grow approximately 30 varieties of apples, which is a lot for a commercial apple orchard. We do retail, wholesale, and we also produce for hard cider production, so we need a lot of diversity in the apples that we grow to accommodate all of those markets. In total, we grow about six million apples a year on the farm.
hg: can visitors pick their own?
steve: yes! Visitors can pick Saturdays 9 am - 6 pm, Sundays 9 am - 5 pm, and Mondays 9 am - 5 pm. We do hayrides, too! Visit our website for more information.
hg: do you have a favorite fruit or veggie?
steve: I love blueberries - in season. I love peaches - in season. I love strawberries - in season. And I love apples - in season. I emphasize “in season” because I’m a big believer in eating seasonally.
hg: which fruits make the best ciders?
steve: for hard cider, we want apples that have a lot of tannins and acids. That gives them the complexity in their flavor and fuller bodies. So, variety-wise it’s obscure apples you probably don’t know, like Ashmead’s Kernel, Dabinett, Kingston Black. Then there’s also some great domestic varieties like Granny Smith, Jonagold, and even McIntosh. When it comes to sweet cider, it’s all about apple diversity. We want to work with a blend of apples and never want to make a sweet cider out of just one type of apple. The more varieties that we can put into the pressing, the better the sweet cider’s going to taste.
hg: what’s the best apple for apple pie?
steve: the best apple for apple pie is...a blend of apples! Certain apples, like Cortland and Granny Smith will hold their shape during cooking and will give you that actual apple shape and apple crunch when you bite into your pie. Apple varieties like Golden Delicious and Gala should be in your pie blend as well, because they’re going to fully melt down and turn into that sauce filling between the different pieces of apples. And the real pro-tip we use in our bakery, is our “pie goop” which acts is a binding agent to hold the whole thing together.
hg: we see your ciders are award winning… care to brag?
steve: we started making hard cider about 12 years ago, when the industry, specifically in Pennsylvania - and I’d say the United States - was fairly new and really undeveloped. It’s great to be part of an emerging industry where styles and trends are developing. One of our premier ciders is our Crabby Granny. It’s a blend of a Hyslop Crab Apple and Granny Smith. We have proprietary fermentation techniques we use to make it. We get a lot of rave reviews about that one.
hg: if I eat an apple a day, will that really keep the doctor away?
steve: probably not. It’s really just about all things in moderation.
hg: do you have a celebrity doppleganger?
steve: when I was younger, I used to get Justin Timberlake.
steve: when you cannot sell your fruit, you have too much fruit.
hg: ice cream or cake?
steve: ice cream! I like vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry. I also like to add toppings to my ice cream, like apple pie goop.
hg: should we rebrand Boyertown as “The Big Apple”?
steve: probably not. I bet New York would be pretty upset, and I think other apple producing regions would say that we’re punching way above our weight class.
hg: what’s your favorite breakfast food?
steve: coffee. I work 20 hours a day during the busy season, so it’s my breakfast of choice.