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Drink sustainably: Bucknell student uses "ugly" fruit to create hard cider

Ben Fink, an environmental studies student at Bucknell University, created a hard cider made out of "ugly
Emily Paine
Bucknell University, submitted photo
Ben Fink, an environmental studies student at Bucknell University, created a hard cider made out of "ugly" fruit with Civil War Cider in Lewisburg.

Ben Fink’s Misfit Mashup Hard Cider gets its flavor from the apples and other fruits that wouldn’t have fit in on grocery store shelves.

“Ugly apples are apples that are not aesthetically pleasing and are not able to be sold in a store but are still able to be sold in a cider,” he said. “The idea is we’re reducing food waste…because otherwise an orchard would have been forced to throw them out.”

Fink is an environmental studies student at Bucknell. He developed the cider this fall with Rob Antanitis, owner of Civil War Cider in Lewisburg. It launches on Friday, and Civil War Cider is hosting a community event for the release.

The Food and Drug Administration estimates 30 to 40 percent of the food supply produced in the U.S. is wasted, or never consumed.

Andrew Stuhl, professor of environmental studies at Bucknell, worked with Fink to make the process of creating the cider as sustainable as possible.

“A sustainable ugly fruit hard cider is steps ahead of the conventional cider and beer industries,” Stuhl said. “It’s doing good for the planet and doing good with the community.”

Dries Orchard in Sunbury and Green’s Fruit Farm in Elysburg invited Fink to harvest their unpicked, ugly apples for the cider. Stuhl says Fink drove to each orchard himself to cut down on environmental impacts as much as possible.

“We didn’t have to get products from around the country, which a lot of major beverage suppliers do,” Stuhl said. “We really limited the impact by keeping it super local.”

Antanitis said Civil War Cider has always tried to have sustainable practices - they use locally grown apples for their ciders and do all of their own distribution. When Fink came to him with the idea for Misfit Mashup, Antanitis wanted to get involved.

“All of our apples are local, and we get to buy off of our neighbors, we put money in their pockets, then we’re selling back to folks that are local,” Antanitis said. “But going the step further and trying to make it even more sustainable for the orchards was a big part of this project.”

Fink, Antanitis and the Civil War Cider staff canned 500 cans of Misfit Mashup this week for what Fink called a “soft launch” on Friday. They plan to fill 5,000 cans of the cider in the coming weeks.

Misfit Mashup Hard Cider releases on Friday, Dec. 1 at Civil War Cider during Lewisburg's Late Night Shoppers event.

Fink helped can the cider this week, holding the drink he designed and created for the first time.

“That feels amazing,” he said.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of Morning Edition on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.