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Franklin Cider Mill

Kiwi Reviews and Recommendations

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 3 years ago 13 min read
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Franklin Cider Mill, October 6th, 2021.

The Franklin Cider Mill, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

In my line of business, between running a family owned and operated business in Florida and trying to work on no less than six novels at the same time and various short stories, I find myself with little time to do anything else.

About a month ago, on the way back from grocery shopping with my family, an idea was presented. A longing really. We don't have cider mills in Florida. Not the kind we knew and visited, on school field trips and family outings, as children growing up in Michigan. No, Florida has a wide variety of wholesome natural things to see and do, but not cider mills. After a split second of consideration, it was decided. We were going to Michigan to do a whirlwind sampling of no less than three cider mills, one each day, and then we were coming back quick. Work waits for no man or woman.

I've chronicled my entire journey (in my head for now) and will share that in another posting, but this one will go in depth into my adventure to none-other than the Franklin Cider Mill located in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. Let's get to it.

The #1 Cider Mill in Michigan

Before we even got there, we needed to know HOW to get there. Directions. Back in the day you took down directions, and many times these instructions for driving included landmarks like "the old oak tree" and "down the dirt road, past the third bend". Now it seems silly, but depending on which direction you're coming from, and which navigation device is paving your way, you will indeed encounter one of those two landmarks and more. Also, during our quick search before departing our Airbnb we discovered that the Franklin Cider Mill was recently voted the #1 Cider Mill in Michigan. In the words of Borat, love him or hate him, he's a fictional character; "Very Nice!"

Also, during our quick searches for all things Franklin Cider Mill-esque, we ran into their Google reviews. My review, as of 5 days ago, is still the newest review, and it includes a variety of pictures as well if you feel like checking it out. During my quick review of other's reviews I felt a little bit of trepidation, but did my best to quell it. Personal experiences are unique to the individual, their own experiences, history, expectations, and simply whether they are having a good or bad day really. I also know, you can't please everyone. With all of that in mind, we headed off to the Cider Mill with smiles on our faces and great anticipation.

Parking.

Upon arrival, we had to find a spot for our massive 15 passenger vehicle. Our driver kindly pulled us in right next to the old time tractor on the highest point of the mill, and parked us in a precarious position. Now, I thought there was a larger more accommodating parking lot, according to my childhood memories, and surely enough, a moment later a woman came out and asked us to not block their upper loading dock, and please park our vehicle in the lower lot across the stream. The woman was polite, quick and courteous and our driver moved the vehicle while we began our perusal of the mill, snapping pictures as if it were our first time.

Main Features.

There are two distinct parts of the mill, the Upper mill and the Lower mill, divided by a sharp slope and a set of stairs. There's a cider press in the Upper mill along with a cider and donut shop, a jams and jellies tent, a merchandise and hot dog building, and that's all before you get to the Lower mill. Down below, on the back/side of the mill is another cider and donut shop selling the same items as the upper mill shop. There's also the old water wheel and a history wall complete with pictures and fun to learn information. As you progress away from the mill there is a fast moving stream with ducks, ducks, and more ducks, and a bridge crossing the stream, which leads to the much larger and flatter parking lot.

An old tractor!

Located just outside the Upper Mill portion is an old FARMALL tractor, painted red, and prominently visible in my picture of the mill above. Behind that and actually attached to the Upper mill, is a multi-paned window area filled with antiques and old cider mill memorabilia with little note cards explaining what some of the items are, what their purpose is/was and more. It looks like this might have been an additional venue in the past and I distinctly remember a time from my childhood when I made hand dipped candles at a Cider Mill on one of my school trips. Could this be where that happened? I think so. Like a kid in a candy shop, I took many pictures and obsessed over the details, wanting my kids to come over and look and enjoy as I was doing.

Sorry about the glare!

Down the hill and against the front of the mill are the main mill gift shop doors. As you would expect, every part of this mill screams nostalgia. From wooden doors with small screens to keep the bee's out, and let the aroma of fresh donuts to waft out and permeate every molecule of the surrounding air, to the old wooden steps leading up to the doors. They've kept as much of the mill as real and as true to memory as possible.

Knowing the cider and donuts were our ultimate goal, and knowing we had a lot of mill to yet see, we skipped the main shop and headed for a quick tour of the grounds. As we proceeded past the main shop, a large white tent was set up to the left hand side and you can see from a few of the panels that are pulled back, that the inside is jam packed with... well, jam. Jams and jellies and dressings and all manner of food stuffs. Not able to control myself from a quick assessment, I headed inside the tent.

So much stuff!

Immediately my heart caught in my chest. They had so many different varieties of items it was astounding. I started off with checking out the Apple Cider Vinegar dressing, and then the cherry apple infused dressing, the honey mustard dressing, and poppy seed dressing. There were at least ten different dressings to pick from, but alas I was just looking this round so I headed off to the next section where I found a variety of mixes to make things like apple crumb cake, apple cobbler, apple crisp, apple bread, apple pie, apple this and apple that. Turning to the next section I found a variety of maple syrups, all natural syrups, cinnamon infused maple syrup, cinnamon apple infused, and more. I made a mental note to buy some syrup when I came back through and moved on to the Jams and Jellies.

Oh Sweet sweet jellies and jams... Oh Honey! There's Honey!

The selection here was really mind blowing. All of the Franklin Cider Mill branded items were in glass jars with metal screw on lids, like mason jars really, giving then a distinct home grown look. Apple jelly was the first of course, but right behind it was Apple Cider Jelly! That is something I've never had before and I can attest it tastes awesome! Beyond that, there was every flavor of jam and jelly that I've come to know, and many I never knew existed. Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly is another one I've never heard of. Almost every selection had a "preserves" version with huge chunks of fruit visible inside, a Jam version which uses puree, and a Jelly version which is made from the juice and usually contains no seeds or pulp.

Butters! Oh No No No!

Next up were butters! Not like cow/milk butter, but APPLE BUTTER. I will be honest, they did not have Apple Butter. They had Pumpkin Butter, but no apple butter. I continued my search though, undaunted, and moved on past the "pepper jellies". Apple Habanero Jelly anyone? How about Apple Ghost Pepper? Apple Scorpion Pepper? Strawberry Scorpion Pepper Jelly? Ugh. Nope! Not for me. I'm delicate and... sensible.

Past the Pepper Jellies were containers of fudge and other treats such as gummy worms and peach rings, affordably priced too. I grabbed a couple containers of fudge, noting the "buy two, get one free" offer and made my way about three feet before realizing this was my test run! I wasn't buying anything right now! Ugh. Sometimes I hate my brain. I quickly proceeded to the register and asked the woman if she could hold those items for me and she grabbed a box and set them in it behind the counter. I also noted that next to the counter was a large cold case filled with farm fresh cheddar cheese spread and blocks of other cheeses and a selection of meat sticks and jerky. "Hunter Sausage" is what they called it. Hunting is a big thing in Michigan, apparently. Good to know if the apocalypse comes and we have to hunt for food like in the movie "I am legend". But before that happens, buying a bit of Hunter Sausage will suffice.

Good Merch.

Directly across from the Jams and Jellies tent, is another merchandise tent offering a selection of candies, apples by the bag or bushel, caramel apples, popcorn, duck food, bakery mixes, and the Granite boards shown below. Each "board" is a solid slab of granite, cut into the shape of the Michigan Lower Peninsula (yeah, there is a little known and less often thought of, or considered, Upper Peninsula too!). Each board comes with a cheese knife which is really nice. I'm not too sure that using this as a cutting board would work that great as the surfaces are polished to an almost mirror finish, and granite might really do some damage to a knife blade.

We've got apples and popcorn galore! You want cheese boards? We've got em! You want MORE~!

After leaving the tent area, I headed down the flight of steps to the lower level and checked out the hot dog building which also had a variety of shirts, hoodies, hats, drink cups, pull over sweaters and more, displayed along the back wall. Sizes ranged from Small to XXL and I was quick to buy a gray hoodie with the FCM Apple logo on the front and a much larger Franklin Cider Mill depiction on the back. Also, as a quick note, there are a lot of things at Franklin Cinder Mill that say, "A Family Tradition", which seems to be their tag line. Not only is it true in fact, but in practice as well. The mill is family owned and operated!

The Water Wheel.

The WATER WHEEL

Across from the hot dog and merch building is the lower level cider and donut shop, as well as the old water wheel which can be viewed through iron bars and you can take pictures. Unfortunately, you can't touch the wheel. Opposite of the wheel is a historical wall where you can read all about the mills history and ownership, operations and when they switched over from being water powered, to electrical. I love the background story and the historical significance of things like this. It really gives the cider mill some context and an explanation of how it came to be, why it was necessary and how it changed through the ages to fit the times and needs of the surrounding community.

History of the Cider Mill

As you exit the historical nook and walk down the hill, a number of sturdy wooden benches and a couple tables are found near the stream. They're far enough away from the water that there is little chance of falling or stumbling into the water. At the time we were visiting, the stream was only about a foot deep and was crowded with mallard ducks going about their business playing in the small water fall and swimming in the calmer pool upstream.

Look at the ducky on the right!

Another great thing about the ducks is you can feed them. "Duck Food" which is simply a brown paper bag filled with cracked corn can be purchased at the mill for $1.00. The ducks are very mild mannered and well fed. They don't try to take your food and are not aggressive at all. In fact, we bought a couple bags and fed the ducks for a half hour. Some of them even ate the food directly out of our outstretched palm. We saw a number of people feeding the ducks pieces of their donuts or bread. While I know the ducks probably prefer a good donut, I think they're healthier eating the cracked corn. We also saw them bobbing in the water eating things off the bottom of the stream so we know they're getting their natural food as well, so we weren't worried. The ducks look awesome and really add to the downhome feel of the mill.

Once we were done taking pictures and a short video of the ducks and the stream, it was time to go get some cider and donuts. The younger more spry members of our family headed to the Upper mill store we'd skipped in the beginning to check it out and buy our food and drink there. Upon entering, there is a long counter with a number of windows available and a number of items for purchase. Fresh apple, pumpkin, banana, cherry and other flavors of breads, pull apart rolls, pies, and other delectable selections sit right at your finger tips, ready to purchase. The selection was amazing but we didn't come for pies, so we skipped those items. Another thing we skipped was the slushes. You can get fresh pressed cider frozen slushes and other flavors of slushes as well, but again, we had other plans.

To the right hand side of the counter is a large alcove and viewing area of the apple cider presses. They were already done pressing for the day, but we did watch as they hosed everything down and cleaned it in preparation for the following day. When they say "fresh pressed", they mean it. I assume that as they get close to running out for the day, depending on the time, they will either press more or simply run out. It's luck of the draw and a reason to get there early and not wait until they're getting ready to close before visiting.

The Cider Press

The walls of the viewing area are covered with pictures of the mill, it's owners both previous and current, and future, as well as awards from the community and various news articles they've been mentioned in, or that were specifically about them. Once we were done taking pictures, we headed to the counter, ordered up a gallon and a half of cider and a dozen donuts. At this time, A gallon of cider is $12.00 and a dozen donuts are $10.00. There is a nationwide apple issue at hand, which has raised the price of cider nationwide. Even in your local supermarket, a gallon of cider that might have cost $3.50 is now approx. $5 to $7, but the kinds you get in your grocery store are not fresh pressed, all natural, with no preservatives, etc.

Armed with cider and donuts, we headed down to the stream and sat on the benches there and enjoyed our cider and donuts. Another quick note; Small drinking cups can be obtained at the cash registers where you buy the cider, free of charge, as well as napkins and forks and condiments if you need them.

The cider was delicious. Cold and crisp, it was also light and fruity (of course), not too sweet and slightly tangy. Keep in mind (in case you didn't know) we did four cider mills in three days, so comparatively, I have a bit of a selection to base my opinion on. The donuts were also absolutely amazing. Hot and fresh, they were soft and moist on the inside, a little crispy on the outside towards the middle. Every bite was amazing from the first to the last. With that being said, and knowing the reviews that were done by others, I feel a bit defensive on behalf of the cider mill.

Those who feel the donuts are greasy, of course they are. By definition they are. They are cooked in oil. Deep fried fresh. Anyone who knows anything about cooking knows that fat is flavor, oils and greases enhance flavors of flour grains and bring out aromatic aspects of everything they touch. Franklin Cider Mill puts the donuts into brown paper bags which absorb some of the surface oil, but if you're disgusted by deep fried items, or things that have oil on them, skip the donuts. Skip all donuts. Skip potato chips and popcorn, and everything else. Buy an apple and blame mother nature when it's too "whatever" for your tastes.

While I'm at it, I'll address a couple more things people complained out. 1.) The Weather. Are you kidding me? Who was the snowflake complaining about how it rained the entire time they were at the mill? Give me a break! 2.) The Bees. As my son informed me, the "bees" are actually Yellow Jackets. They are not aggressive and are only interested in taking a sip of your cider if they can. These little guys are an essential part of the ecosystem and a valuable resource. They like the fresh stuff obviously, but all the screens and the cold air blowing inside each shop keep them at bay, so if you're outside, drinking your cider, you may want to take precautions. I don't recommend swatting, flicking, or trying to shoo them away. Either let them take a sip, or cover your cup and walk away. If you do decide to let them take a sip, please don't drink the bees! 3.) Hills. The mill was built at the site of a fast moving stream used to power the mill in it's hey-day. Gravity makes water flow, therefore, you need high ground and low ground. If you can't make it up or down the slopes, I can kindly recommend some ex-pro wrestlers to carry you around on their back while you shout "Inconceivable!" and swat at the bees. Please don't swat the bees.

Well, that's about it for my review and info on the Franklin Cider Mill. If you like what I wrote, please give it a like. If you want more, please consider leaving me a tip, "please sir or ma'am! We're a starving artist you know!". Tips will prove to my wife that I somehow known how to write and then, maybe one day I can do this full time. More reviews, more personal insight, more posts, and more fun stuff for your reading enjoyment.

Brought to you by the Old Black Walnut Tree, located next to the benches at the Franklin Cider Mill, which kindly dropped a large green egg in front of me, so I could educate my kids on where walnuts come from, other than the store.

travel
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About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?

No

Anything?

No

Thank you sir.

I sit

waiting

Tyler? Is that you?

No

I am... Cornelius.

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