Faye Allen of Paw Paw loves apple cider doughnuts. They’re her favorite dessert. They’re also her favorite snack and breakfast food.
Allen has been purchasing apple cider doughnuts at Jonamac Orchard in Malta since the early 1980s. She visited the orchard three times last week to buy doughnuts. She also buys doughnuts, cider and apples to mail to her children in Arizona, who cannot find similar doughnuts in the southwest.
“I love the doughnuts; they’re fantastic,” Allen said. “They’re totally different from any other type of doughnut. I wouldn’t go to a store to buy doughnuts, but I stop by to pick up apple cider doughnuts all the time. There’s just something about them that signals the start of fall.”
Kevin McArtor, an owner of Jonamac Orchard, said part of the allure of the doughnuts is that they are a seasonal item that can only be purchased for a few months each year.
“I think that people love the doughnuts because it is a fall tradition in the midwest,” McArtor said. “Out west, you can’t find them. They can’t even give the doughnuts away, nobody wants them. They’re very popular here and out east, though. I think for us, it marks the changing of the seasons. We’re open now, our apples are ready to pick and we’re making and selling doughnuts and cider. ’Tis the season.”
There are four apple orchards located in and around DeKalb County: Honey Hill Orchard at 11783 Waterman Road in Waterman, Jonamac Orchard at 19412 Shabbona Road in Malta, Kuipers Family Farm at 1N318 Watson Road in Maple Park and Plank Road Orchard at 50W737 Plank Road in Sycamore.
The orchards already have opened for the season: Jonamac Orchard opened Aug. 16, Kuipers Family Farm opened Aug. 19, Honey Hill Orchard opened Aug. 31 and Plank Road Orchard opened Sept. 2.
“People are crazy about the doughnuts,” said Kim Kuipers of Kuipers Family Farm. “Some people buy several dozen doughnuts at a time. We are the busiest on the weekends, when we can sell an average of 2,200 dozen doughnuts per day.”
Each orchard uses a tried-and-true secret family recipe to make their fried treats.
Kathy Bock said her parents, Hawken and Edna Askelson, started Honey Hill Orchard with a few apple trees in their backyard. Over the years, more trees were planted, a cider press was purchased in 1977 and her family started to make and sell doughnuts.
“In the mid 1980s, we bought a very small doughnut fryer, and we had to drop and flip the doughnuts by hand,” Bock said. “My mom created a recipe, and we’ve been using her recipe and making doughnuts ever since.”
Kuipers said her farm uses the original doughnut recipe that was handed down from the orchard’s previous owners more than 30 years ago. In recent years, the bakery has added three different glazes – chocolate, vanilla and apple spice – to their doughnuts, offering variation from the original cinnamon-and-sugar-coated option.
Denice McArtor, an owner of Jonamac Orchard, said that perfecting their doughnut recipe took many batches of trial and error, but she has been making doughnuts from the same recipe for more than 21 years. McArtor wakes up at 5 a.m. to make hundreds of dozens of doughnuts each day.
“It took years of practice until we found the best recipe and selected that one to stay with,” Denice McArtor said. “We use that same family recipe and will not change. It’s part of our tradition.”
Bock said the apple cider doughnuts help get people excited for fall and fall-related activities, such as apple and pumpkin picking.
“Some people come in to get half a dozen, and five minutes later they buy one or two dozen more,” Bock said. “A few doughnuts won’t even last the car ride home. Everyone, including us, is looking forward to fall and apple cider doughnuts. We’re excited to be open again, to see everyone and share what we do with them.”