Pear cider

Cider

[sahy-der]
''For the non-alcoholic beverage commonly known in the U.S. as "cider", see apple cider.

Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples mainly, though pears are also used; in the UK, pear cider is known as perry. In the United States and parts of Canada, where the term cider almost exclusively refers to non-alcoholic apple juice (apple cider), the phrase hard cider is used to denote the fermented version.

While any variety of apple, and even other pome fruits such as pear or quince, may be used, certain cultivars are preferred in some regions, and may be known as cider apples. The drink varies in alcohol content from less than 3% ABV in French cidre doux to 8.5% ABV or above in traditional English ciders.

Cider is very popular in the United Kingdom, especially in South West England, in comparison to other countries. The UK has the highest per capita consumption as well as the largest cider producing companies in the world, including H. P. Bulmer, the largest. Overall, the UK produces 500 million litres (110 million imperial gallons) of cider per year.

The drink is also popular and traditional in Brittany (chistr) and Normandy (France) (cidre), Ireland and Asturias (sidra) and the Basque Country (sagardoa) of Spain and France. Pear cider is popular in Sweden and in Basse-Normandie (France) (poiré). The drink is making a resurgence in both Europe and the United States.

Appearance and types of cider

The flavour of different ciders differ enormously. They can be classified in the first instance from dry to sweet. The appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear. Colour ranges from light yellow through orange to brown. The variations in clarity and colour are mostly due to filtering between pressing and fermentation. Some apple varieties will produce a clear cider without any filtration. Sparkling and still ciders are made; sparkling is more common.

Modern, mass-produced ciders more closely resemble sparkling wine in appearance. More traditional brands tend to be darker and cloudier. They are often stronger than processed varieties and taste more strongly of apples. Almost colourless white cider is produced on a large scale. It is typically strong (typically 7-8% ABV) and available very cheaply.

Some ciders produced in the UK are sold under the alternative spelling cyder.

Cider production

Scratting and pressing

Apples grown for consumption are suitable for cider making, though some regional cider-makers prefer to use a mix of eating and cider apples (as in Kent, England), or exclusively cider apples (as in the West Country, England). There are many hundreds of varieties of cultivars developed specifically for cider making.

Once the apples are gathered from trees in orchards they are scratted (ground down) into what is called pomace or pommage. Historically this was done using pressing stones with circular troughs, or by a cider mill. Cider mills were traditionally driven by the hand, water-mill, or horse-power. In modern times they are likely to be powered by electricity. The pulp is then transferred to the cider press and built up in layers into a block known as a cheese.

Traditionally the method for squeezing the juice from the cheese involves placing clear, sweet straw or hair cloths between the layers of pomace. This will usually alternate with slatted ash-wood racks, until there is a pile of ten or twelve layers. It is important to minimise the time that the pomace is exposed to air in order to keep oxidation to a minimum.

This pile is then subjected to different degrees of pressure in succession, until all the 'must' or juice is squeezed from the pomace. This juice, after being strained in a coarse hair-sieve, is then put into either open vats or closed casks. The pressed pulp is given to farm animals as winter feed, composted or discarded, or used to make liqueurs.

Fermentation

Fermentation is carried out at a temperature of 4–16 °C (40–60 °F). This is low for most kinds of fermentation, but is beneficial for cider as it leads to slower fermentation with less loss of delicate aromas.

Shortly before the fermentation consumes all the sugar, the liquor is racked (siphoned) into new vats. This leaves dead yeast cells and other undesirable material at the bottom of the old vat. At this point it becomes important to exclude airborne acetic bacteria, so vats are filled completely to exclude air. The fermenting of the remaining available sugar generates a small amount of carbon dioxide that forms a protective layer, reducing air contact. This final fermentation creates a small amount of carbonation. Extra sugar may be added specifically for this purpose. Racking is sometimes repeated if the liquor remains too cloudy.

Apple based juices with cranberry also make fine ciders; and many other fruit purées or flavourings can be used, such as grape, cherry, and raspberry.

The cider is ready to drink after a three month fermentation period, though more often it is matured in the vats for up to two or three years.

Blending and bottling

For larger-scale cider production, ciders from vats produced from different varieties of apple may be blended to accord with market taste. If the cider is to be bottled, usually some extra sugar is added for sparkle. Higher quality ciders can be made using the champagne method, but this is expensive in time and money and requires special corks, bottles, and other equipment. Some home brewers use beer bottles, which work perfectly well, and inexpensively. This allows the cider to become naturally carbonated.

Health

Conventional apple cider has a relatively high concentration of phenolics and antioxidants which may be helpful for preventing heart disease, cancer and other ailments. This is, in part, because apples themselves have a fairly high concentration of phenolics in them to begin with.

Cider festivals

A cider festival is an organised event promoting cider and usually perry. A variety of ciders and perries will be available for tasting and buying. Festivals may be organised by cider-promoting private organizations, pubs or cider producers.

Uses of cider

A distilled spirit, apple brandy, is made from cider. Its best known forms are calvados and applejack. In Calvados, Normandy, France calvados is made from cider by double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28%–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%. Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage made in North America by concentrating cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation, or by true evaporative distillation. In traditional freeze distillation, a barrel of cider is left outside during the winter. When the temperature is low enough, the water in the cider starts to freeze. If the ice is removed, the (now more concentrated) alcoholic solution is left behind in the barrel. If the process is repeated often enough, and the temperature is low enough, the alcohol concentration is raised to 30–40% alcohol by volume. In freeze distillation, methanol and fusel oil, which are natural fermentation by-products, may reach harmful concentrations. These toxins can be separated when regular heat distillation is performed. Home production of applejack is illegal in most countries.

A popular aperitif in Normandy is pommeau– a drink produced by blending unfermented apple juice and apple brandy in the barrel (the high alcoholic content of the spirit stops the fermentation process of the cider and the blend takes on the character of the aged barrel).

Cocktails may include cider. Besides kir and snakebite, an example is Black Velvet in a version of which cider may replace champagne, usually referred to as a "Poor Man's Black Velvet".

A few producers in Quebec have developed ice cider (French: cidre de glace), sometimes called "apple ice wine"), inspired from ice wines, where the apples are naturally frozen either before or after harvest. The alcohol concentration of ice cider is 9–13%.

Related drinks

Other fruits can be used to make cider-like drinks. The most popular is perry, known in France as poiré, produced mostly in Normandy, and is made from fermented pear juice. A branded sweet perry known as Babycham, marketed principally as a women's drink and sold in miniature Champagne-style bottles, was once popular but has now become unfashionable. Another related drink is cyser – cider fermented with honey.

Although not widely made in modern times, various other pome fruits can produce palatable drinks. Apicius, in Book II of De re coquinaria, includes a recipe calling for quince cider.

Another similar drink is plum jerkum, made from fermented plums, traditional of Warwickshire in the English Midlands. It is said that it "left the head clear while paralysing the legs". The Warwickshire Drooper plum from which it is traditionally brewed is now uncommon, which explains the rarity of the drink.

Cider by country

Before the development of rapid long distance transportation, regions of cider consumption generally coincided with regions of cider production: that is, areas with apple orchards. For example, R. A. Fletcher notes that in the Liber Sancti Jacobi, cider was said to be more common than wine in 12th century Galicia.

Argentina

In Argentina, cider, or sidra is by far the most popular alcoholic carbonated drink during the Christmas and New Year holidays. It has traditionally been considered the choice of the middle and lower classes (along with ananá fizz, a sort of pineapple cider), whereas the higher classes would rather go for champagne for their Christmas or New Year toast. Popular commercial brands of cider are Real, La Farruca and Rama Caída. It is usually marketed in 0.7 litre glass or plastic bottles.

Austria

In Austria cider is made in the south west of Lower Austria, the so called "Mostviertel" and in Upper Austria. Almost every farmer there has some apple or pear trees. Many of the farmers also have a kind of inn called "Mostheuriger". There they serve cider and also something to eat.

Australia

In Australia, 'cider' is considered an alcoholic beverage made from apples. The most popular brands of alcoholic cider in Australia are Strongbow, and Mercury Cider made at the Cascade Brewery in Hobart, Tasmania. Cascade's 'Apple Isle' Sparkling Apple Juice is the most popular selling brand of non-alcoholic cider in Australia. Alcoholic cider is sold in bottleshops, while the non-alcoholic version is stocked in the soft-drink aisles of supermarkets. Pipsqueak brewed by Little Creatures (brewery) in Fremantle, Western Australia is a new player in the Cider market but is now considered to be one of the "big three" of Australian ciders.

Belgium

Scottish & Newcastle own Belgium cider maker Stassen SA, who in addition to their own local brands such as Strassen X Cider also produce Strongbow Jacques, a 5.5% ABV cider with cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. Zonhoven based Konings NV specialises in private label ciders for European retailers and offers a wide variety of flavours and packaging options to the beverage industry.

Canada

In Quebec, cider is considered a traditional alcoholic beverage. Cider making was, however, forbidden from the early years of the British rule as it was in direct conflict with established British brewers' interests (most notably John Molson). In recent years, a unique variety has emerged on the market: ice cider. This type of cider is made from apples with a particularly high level of sugar caused by natural frost.

In Ontario, apple cider or apple hooch is often home-made. Cider is commercially produced in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Ontario, usually with a 7% alcohol content. It is sold in 341 ml glass bottles and 2 litre plastic bottles, and does not have the added sugar injected into much of US hard cider.

Channel Islands

Along with Normandy, the Channel Islands had a strong cider-making tradition. Cider had been the ordinary drink of people of Jersey from the 16th century, when the commercial opportunities offered by cider exports spurred the transformation of feudal open-field agriculture to enclosure. Until the 19th century, it was the largest agricultural export with up to a quarter of the agricultural land given over to orchards. In 1839, for example, 268,199 gallons (1,219,257 litres) of cider were exported from Jersey to England alone, and almost half a million gallons were exported from Guernsey 1834-1843, but by 1870 exports from Jersey had slumped to 4,632 gallons.

Beer had replaced cider as a fashionable drink in the main export markets, and even the home markets had switched to beer as the population became more urban. Potatoes overtook cider as the most important crop in Jersey in the 1840s, and in Guernsey glasshouse tomato production grew in importance. Small-scale cider production on farms for domestic consumption, particularly by seasonal workers from Brittany and mainland Normandy, was maintained, but by the mid-20th century production dwindled until only 8 farms were producing cider for their own consumption in 1983.

The number of orchards had been reduced to such a level that the destruction of trees in the Great Storm of 1987 demonstrated how close the Islands had come to losing many of its traditional cider apple varieties. A concerted effort was made to identify and preserve surviving varieties and new orchards were planted. As part of diversification, farmers have moved into commercial cider production, and the cider tradition is celebrated and marketed as a heritage experience. In Jersey, a strong (above 7%) variety is currently sold in shops and a bouché style is also marketed.

In Jersey, cider is used in the preparation of black butter (Jèrriais: nièr beurre), a traditional preserve.

Chile

Cider have been made in Chile since colonial times. Southern Chile stands for nearly all Cider production in Chile. Cider is also often linked to production of Chicha, a traditional alcoholic drink.

Denmark

Despite a strong apple tradition, Denmark has little cider production. Five places that produce cider in Denmark are Pomona (since 2003), Fejø Cider (since 2003), Dancider (since 2004), Ørbæk Bryggeri (since 2006) and Ciderprojektet (since 2008). All are inspired mainly by English and French cider styles. The assortment of imported ciders has grown significantly since 2000, prior to that only ciders from Sweden, primarily non-alcoholic, were generally available. On March 31 2008 Carlsberg launched an alcoholic cider in Denmark called Somersby Cider.

East Asia

Cider in Japan and South Korea refers to a soft drink similar to Sprite or the UK definition of lemonade. The Chilsung Cider brand dominates the Korean market.

Finland

In Finland cider holds the position as one of the most common drinks after beer. The best-known brands are Golden Cap, Fizz and Upcider. They typically contain 4,5-4,7%vol of alcohol. Virtually all Finnish cider is produced from fermented apple (or pear) juice concentrate and comes in a variety of flavours ranging from forest berries to rhubarb and vanilla.

France

French cidre is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. 'Demi-Sec' is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Many ciders are sold in corked bottles, but some screw-top bottles exist. Until the mid-20th century, cider was the second most-consumed drink in France (after wine) but an increase in the popularity of beer displaced cider's market share outside traditional cider-producing regions. In crêperies (pancakes restaurants) in Brittany, cider is generally served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir breton (or kir normand) is a cocktail apéritif made with cider and cassis, rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir. The Domfrontais, in the Orne (Basse-Normandie), is famous for its pear cider (poiré). The calvados du Domfrontais is made of cider and poiré.

Some cider is also made in south western France, in the French portion of the Basque Country. It is a traditional drink there and is making a recovery. Ciders produced here are generally of the style seen in Spanish part of the Basque country.

Calvados, Normandy, France; Calvados, the spirit is made of cider through a process called double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28%–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%.

Keeving

Breton cider making employs the technique of keeving (from the French cuvée). In keeving, calcium chloride and a special enzyme are added to the pressed apple juice, causing protein in the juice to precipitate to the top for removal. This reduces the amount of protein available to the yeast, starving it and therefore causing the cider to finish fermenting while sugar is still available. The result is a sweeter drink at a lower alcohol level but still retaining the full flavour of the apples, without dilution.

Greece

In Greece, cider is very unpopular and it can only be found imported in very few particular supermarkets.

Germany

German cider, usually called Apfelwein (apple wine), and regionally known as Apfelmost (apple must), Viez (from Latin vice, the second or substitute wine), or Saurer Most (sour must), has an alcohol content of 5.5–7% and a tart, sour taste.

German cider is mainly produced and consumed in Hesse, particularly in the Frankfurt, Wetterau and Odenwald areas, in Moselfranken, Merzig (Saarland) and the Trier area, as well as the lower Saar area and the region bordering on Luxembourg. In these regions, there are several large producers, as well as numerous small, private producers often using traditional recipes. An official Viez route or cider route connects Saarburg with the border to Luxembourg.

Ireland

Cider is a popular drink in Ireland; for a long time cider production was officially encouraged and supported by a preferential tax treatment. A single cider, Bulmers, dominates sales in Ireland: Owned by C&C and produced in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, this Bulmers is now unrelated to the British Bulmers cider. Outside the Republic of Ireland, C&C brand their cider as Magners. It is very popular in Ireland to drink cider over ice.

Mexico

There are two types of cider (sidra) sold in Mexico. One type is a popular apple flavoured carbonated soft drink, sold under a number of soft drink brands, such as Sidral Mundet and Manzana Lift (both Coca-Cola FEMSA brands). The alcoholic sidra is a sparkling cider typically sold in champagne-style bottles. Sidra is, due to the expense of imported champagne, the traditional drink used for New Year's Eve toasts in Mexico.

Luxembourg

In Luxembourg, viez (pronounced feetz) is rather like English scrumpy. It is cloudy and varies from non-alcoholic to very alcoholic. It is made only in autumn.

Norway

In Norway, cider (sider) is a naturally fermented apple juice. Pear juice is sometimes mixed with the apple to get a better fermenting process started. The main area for cider production is in the proclaimed "fruit garden" or "apple orchard" of Norway, the Hardanger region.

Following lengthy navigation through the directives of Norway's complex alcohol laws, three brands of sparkling cider with an abv of approximately 10% are available to the Norwegian public through distribution by the monopoly outlet Vinmonopolet, Hardanger Sider Sprudlande from Hardanger, Krune Sider from Bergen sourcing apples from Hardanger, and Liersider from Lier. In line with the law of 1975 prohibiting all advertising of alcoholic beverages of abv greater than 2.5%, the products receive little exposure despite some favourable press reaction.

Ciders of low alcohol levels are widely available, mostly brands imported from Sweden, although carbonated soft drinks with no alcoholic content may also be marketed as "cider".

South Africa

There are two main types of cider produced in South Africa, Hunters Gold and Savanna Dry. The are produced and distributed through Distell Group Limited. Hunters Gold was first introduced in South Africa in 1988 as an alternative to beer. The range includes Hunters Dry and Hunters Export. Savanna Dry was introduced in 1996 and also comes in a Light Premium variety.

Spain

The Spanish region of Asturias is well known for traditional sidra, an alcoholic cider of 4–8% strength. It has also been popular in the Basque Country for centuries.

In Asturias cider is traditionally poured in very small quantities from a height into a wide glass, with the arm holding the bottle extended upwards and the one holding the glass extended downwards. This technique is called to escanciar un culín (also echar un culín) and is done to get air bubbles into the drink, thus giving it a sparkling taste like Champagne that lasts a very short time. Spanish sidra is closely associated with sidrerías or sidreríes (Asturias).

Sidra is also known as sagardoa (IPA: /s̺a'gaɾrdoa/) in the Basque Country and drunk either bottled or in a cider house called sagardotegi, in which it is directly poured from a barrel.

Sweden

Kopparberg cider is growing in popularity, particularly in the UK. It comes in a variety of flavours, including apple, pear, summer fruits, forest berries, peach and cloudberry.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands cider is not as commonly available as in its surrounding countries. During 2007 Heineken started testing a cider brand named Jillz in a number of bars throughout the country. The beverage is promoted as an alternative for beer. It contains 5% alcohol by volume which is similar to a typical draught beer in the Netherlands. Jillz will be available on draught in bars, pubs and restaurants only.

The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, cider is mostly associated with the West Country and Herefordshire, but is also produced in Wales and across England, particularly Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk. Cider is available in sweet, medium and dry varieties. Recent years have seen a significant increase in cider sales in the UK.

There are two broad main traditions in cider production in the UK - the West tradition and the Kent and East Anglia tradition. The former are made using a much higher percentage of true cider-apples and so are richer in tannins and sharper in flavour. Kent and East Anglia ciders tend to use a higher percentage of, or are exclusively made from, culinary and dessert fruit; Kentish ciders such as Biddenden's and Theobolds are typical of this style. They tend to be clearer, more vinous and lighter in body and flavour.

At one end of the scale are the traditional, small farm-produced varieties. These are non-carbonated and usually cloudy orange in appearance. England's West Country contains many of these farms. Production is often on such a small scale the product is only sold at the point of manufacture or in local pubs and shops At the other end of the scale are the mass production cider factories producing Magners "Irish Cider" and Hereford's Strongbow Cider.

Mass produced commercial cider such as that produced by Bulmers is likely to be pasteurised and force-carbonated. The colour is likely to be golden yellow with a clear appearance from the filtration. White ciders are almost colourless in appearance.

Cheap strong ciders

A key market segment exists in the UK for strong white mass-produced cider at 7.5% alcohol by volume. Cider with higher than 7.5% alcohol has a higher rate of excise duty. Typical brands include White Lightning, Diamond White, Frosty Jack, and White Strike.

By volume of alcohol, the excise duty on cider is lower than any other drink. The duty, as of 2007, was £26.48 per 100 litres of cider of up to 7.5% alcohol. 100 litres of table wine or alcopops would attract £177.99 of duty, wine under 5.5% was charged £75.42, £102.83 for beer under 7.5%, and £146.70 for the equivalent alcohol volume of spirits.

Before 1996 brands could be labelled at up to 8.4% alcohol when they actually contained 7.4%. This happened because the duty was levied on the actual strength of the alcohol but Trade Descriptions legislation allowed the label to overstate the alcohol content by up to 1%. White Lightning was then sold in both 7.4% and 8.4% strengths, due to uncertainty about whether consumers would prefer the pricier, stronger drink, or the slightly weaker, cheap one.

Until 2005, the market leading White Lightning brand was being sold on an almost continual 50% extra free promotion, giving 3 litres of 7.5% cider for a typical selling price of £2.99. Scottish Courage, which owned the brand, decided that year to restrict bottle size to 2 litres as part of its responsible drinking strategy. A spokesman for the company spoke of white cider in general, "It is the cheapest way to buy alcohol in the UK. This is pocket money these days. There is no other alcohol category that has the same challenge as white cider. One three litre plastic bottle of white cider contains almost the full recommended weekly alcohol intake for a male drinker" (225 ml, 22.5 units, of pure alcohol content compared with the recommended maximum of 28 units). This led to a 70% drop in sales of White Lightning, but increased sales of the brand owner's weaker, more profitable brands. Other manufacturers followed by increasing prices and scrapping their 3 litre bottles.

The price increases on 7.5% cider has increased sales of 5% mass-market cider, which is still widely available in 3 litre bottles in supermarkets.

The West Country of England

Ciders made in the West Country are often called "scrumpy", from "scrump", a local dialect term for a small or withered apple. The archaic spelling cyder is sometimes used, but as a marketing ploy rather than authentic usage. Ciders from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire made from traditional recipes forms a European Union Protected Geographical Indication; traditional cider is also made in Devon and Somerset. Examples of a working cider house still existed here in recent times, though many have now gone. There are over 25 cider producers in Somerset alone, many of them small family businesses.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a condition known as Devon colic, a form of lead poisoning, was associated with the consumption of cider, vanishing after a campaign to remove lead components from cider presses in the early 19th century.

Shepton Mallet, Somerset, is home to the largest cider plant in Europe. This plant produces Blackthorn and Olde English as well as light perry Babycham.

Wales

Smallhold production of cider, made on farms as a beverage for labourers, died out in Wales during the 20th century. Cider and perry production in Wales began a dramatic revival in the early 2000s, with many small firms entering production throughout the country. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has actively encouraged this trend, and Welsh ciders and perries have won many awards at CAMRA festivals; meanwhile, the establishment of groups such as UKCider and the Welsh Perry & Cider Society have spurred communication among producers.

Welsh varieties of apples and pears are often distinct from those grown in England, giving cider from Wales a flavour noticeably different to ciders from nearby regions.

Definition of "real" cider

CAMRA define "real" cider as a product containing at least 90% fresh apple juice, with no added flavourings or colourings. CAMRA appear to endorse chaptalisation of the juice (added sugar prior to fermentation) plus dilution with water afterwards.

UKCider define "real" cider as a product containing at least 85% fresh apple juice, with no artificial flavourings or colourings. UKCider campaigns for the percentage juice content to be listed as part of a full ingredients labelling.

The United States

During colonial times apple cider was consumed as the main beverage with meals because water was often unsafe for drinking. Ciderkin, a very weak, slightly cidery beverage made from cider pomace could also be found on colonial tables.

Sometime after Prohibition the word cider came to mean unfiltered, unfermented apple juice. For instance, in Pennsylvania, apple cider is legally defined as an "amber golden, opaque, unfermented, entirely non-alcoholic juice squeezed from apples". Imitation "cider" products may contain natural or artificial flavours or colours generally recognized as safe, provided their presence is declared on the label by the use of the word "imitation" in type at least one-half the size of the type used to declare the flavour. Cider containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume is classified as hard cider.

Cider may also refer to sparkling apple juice, which is often filtered, such as Martinelli's sparkling apple cider, once touted specifically as "non-alcoholic cider". Martinelli's is sold as "cider" or "juice" depending on regional usage.

Alcoholic cider is produced in the United States, especially in New England and upstate New York. Woodchuck cider, from Vermont, is one of the most common brands in the north-eastern US.

See also

References

General references

  • Household Cyclopedia, 1881
  • Farmhouse Cider & Scrumpy, Bob Bunker 1999
  • Richard A. Fletcher, 1984. Saint James' Catapult: The Life and Times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela (Oxford University Press)

External links

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