Everything you need to know about cider
How cider’s made
As with wine, cider is produced using fruit and a fermentation process.
Fermentation means that fruits—in this case lovely apples—are squashed until the juice can be drained, after this very sugary juice is extracted it's fermented with yeast to produce alcohol.
The liquid then goes on to filtering and carbonating processes, and perhaps a bit of sweetening to produce the final product.
Slight alterations to yeast type and apple variety, the lengthening and shortening fermentation times, will produce the range of tastes.
While the basic process doesn’t change, you needn’t stick to the average draught of fizzy sweet stuff when there is so much on offer.
Cider around the world
Cider making is a popular tradition across Europe.
In France cider or ‘cidre’ is largely a low-alcohol beverage with a mellow full flavour, while further south in Spain citrusy 'cidra' is all the rage.
Ever-popular in the UK bars are ciders hailing from Sweden. Made primarily with apples, Swedish ciders come in a whole heap of fruit flavours like apple and blackcurrant, lemon and lime, and mixed berry. These tend to be a lot sweeter than the ones we're used to.
Pear is also a popular cider flavour among the bottled drinks but that’s not to be confused with Perry. Where pear flavoured cider is made mostly with apples, perry is a beverage made entirely with pears specifically grown and harvested for a delicate summery drink.
From home soil
Here in the UK cider has a proud history. It’s a strong, powerful and often dry drink, made from purpose grown apples.
If you prefer light sparkly tipples, filtered and carbonated ciders are for you. Keep in mind that the sweetness of the liquid does not depend on the type of apple used.
Sugar is often added after the fermentation process to balance the brew’s flavour against its acidity and tannin, which are naturally occurring in apples. A ‘dry’ cider will not have been through this sweetening process and offers a more sophisticated taste.
As with most things in the UK, cider did not originate on the isles but was instead introduced from elsewhere.
The Roman’s loved their cider and brought their apple varieties and production know-how with them to North Western Europe. Once across the channel they met with the Celts and besides other more ghastly exchanges, the two cider-swilling groups eventually started blending their apples to produce the flavours we hold dear today.
Centuries down the line and farmhouse cider, or scrumpy cider, became known as the agricultural labour’s drink. In fact, farm hands could expect to be part paid their week’s work in cider as it was often a safer bet than water.
Unlike the sparkly options, scrumpy is a rough and ready, uncarbonated drink that is often unfiltered, producing a cloudy appearance and a fuller taste—perfect for long evenings.