The "liquid gold" as the apple cider is also still called, is very much in demand due to its fresh, mild, fruity taste, especially in the summer months, and by both women and men. Of course, you can also combine this tangy, fresh-fruity drink with various dishes. What these are, what is an apple cider, what is the history behind the drink, how the apple cider is made, what flavors are available and how to drink it properly, all this you will learn in the following explanations.
Cider - its history
As early as 400 B.C., the Greek Herodotus of Halicarnassus, a historian and the first travel writer of antiquity, reported that a tribe in the present-day city of Side in Asia Minor or Anatolia was already producing juice from apples. Even today, the name "Side" is reflected in the French name cider, in the Spanish "Sidra" and in "Cider", the British and also German name. In Greek, the name "Side" means pomegranate, and if Greek mythology is to be believed, Side, a daughter of Taurus, turned into a pomegranate tree when she injured herself near the river Manavgat on a nymph turned into a tree.
As early as the first century, a wine made from apples and pears was said to have healing powers by a military doctor. But also the Roman scholar, officer and administrator Pliny reported about this wine. Even Charlemagne (768 to 814), king of the Frankish Empire, today's France, decreed in the "Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii..." that among the staff of each judge there should be a person capable of making cider or "intoxicating drinks".
In this way the cider came to Normandy and through campaigns and trade it reached Europe, especially England. From England, apple cider also came to many colonies, to Australia and America. However, the first mention of the recipe of the apple drink is found only in records of the 13th century. The first juice press was also introduced in the same century, so that the production was not only enough for their own needs, but it took on larger proportions.
Although there are large apple cultures and growing areas in Germany, the production of apple cider compared to the regional "Äppelwoi" (apple wine) has not yet gained as much acceptance here as one would wish. Today, however, there are already various German wineries that produce the modern form of cider, apple sparkling wine, and market it under the name "cider". Among cider lovers, the moussing cider is extremely popular, especially as a summer drink. In 2020, per capita consumption in Germany amounted to 0.78 liters.
Cider - what does it mean?
Apple cider, as already mentioned, is a sparkling alcoholic beverage made on the basis of apple cider fermented into apple wine. Apple cider is drunk from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of Europe, but also from the Atlantic coast to the Russian territory. Even the journalist and writer Kurt Tucholsky wrote in his treatise "A Place in Paradise" that cider is drunk in Brittany.
Its taste can be both sweet and dry, even a little bitter and tart. The varieties of apples used, their composition, production and filtration and fermentation play a major role in the taste. Apple cider can also be purchased in other flavors besides apple. The color spectrum of apple cider is also wide. It ranges from colorless to pale pink, pink and amber-gold even to brown. On the market it is offered in bottles or in cans. You can also find some of them in our cider store.
Apple cider - growing areas and apple varieties
Apple growing areas
Today, apple cider is produced in many countries around the world. However, its country of origin England with the growing areas of Central and Southwest England and Somerset and the world's largest cider producer France with Normandy, Champagne, Brittany, as well as Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the Ardennes, Savoy and along the Loire are among the classics. Not to be forgotten is Cork in Ireland, where the sparkling cider has also been produced for many decades.
But the apple drink is also produced in Asturias and the Basque Country in Spain, Madeira in Portugal, Zacatlán, Huejotzingo and the Puebla district in Mexico, Wallonia in Belgium, the Eastern Cape in South Africa, Switzerland in Schaffhausen, Austria in Lower and Upper Austria, Vorarlberg, Styria and Salzburg, Lublin in Poland, Quebec, British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley and Nova Scotia in Canada and Oklahoma and Wyoming in the USA. Of course, Germany is not missing from the list of cider producers. Here, the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, as well as the area of northern Germany with its "Old Country" should be mentioned above all.
In France and Spain, by the way, there are "Controlled Areas of Origin (AOC / DOC)" for cider and sidra, respectively.
Typical local apple varieties for the production of cider, cidre or sidra
If you want to make apple cider, the apple variety hardly matters. Rather, it depends on the acidity and sugar content of the juice. For example, the apple juice should have an acidity level that is between six and nine grams per liter. The sugar content should not exceed 60 degrees Öchsle. Nevertheless, you should know that different apple varieties also produce different apple sparkling wines. This is due to the fact that there are apple varieties that have a high tannin content on the one hand and are quite acidic or sweet on the other. The following apple varieties in particular are used, for example, in the production of apple sparkling wine:
In Germany, the apple varieties "Pink Lady", "Graham's Jubilee Apple" and "Prinz Albrecht" are harvested at the end of September, "Jakob Lebel" and "Horneburger" are ripe for picking in the first to second week of October and the late variety "Ontario" is harvested at the beginning of November. The late apple varieties Cousinot, Bohnapfel, Seestermüher Zitronenapfel and Altländer Pfannkuchen are particularly suitable for the production of juice.
In France, the traditional apple varieties are "Chevalier", "Doux Evêques" and "Bénédiction Saint-Anne". But also the apples of the varieties "Douce-Coёt-ligne", "Douce-Moen", "Jeanne Renard", "Marie-Ménard", "Kermerrien", "Rouget de Dol" and "Judor" are processed for the cider in France. The king of ciders, the "Royal Guillevic" cider, which bears the red "Label Rouge" seal of quality, is made from only one variety of apple, the "Guillevic" variety, which grows only in Morbihan.
In England, the apple varieties "Yarlington Mill" and "Dabinett" are among the most popular varieties when it comes to cider production. These two varieties are known for their high tannin content and low acidity. This combination gives many premium ciders their typical bittersweet taste. But the fresh drink is also made from pears in England.
In Spain, the most common apple varieties used to make Sidra are "Prieta", "Clara", "Gezamina", "Ernestina", "Teórica", "Moko", "Aritza", "Goikoebre", "Errezil/Reineta", "Manttoni", "Patzolua" and "Mozulua".
You should know, however, that apples for juice extraction for cider production must be ripe for consumption. That is, ripeness for consumption begins when the apples have a balanced sugar-acid ratio, the flesh is supple and the taste is typical of the variety.
Apple cider - the production
If you look into the production of moussing apple cider, you will find that it is still done in the same way as it was hundreds of years ago. The apples are pressed and the resulting apple juice is fermented or left to mature. But it is not quite that simple. The result would probably not be a tasty apple sparkling wine, but an apple drink that is not only sour, but also cloudy and not moussing. This drink cannot be compared to the liquid gold that has been professionally produced.
In order to obtain a high-quality, tasty apple cider, you should subject the apples to varietal selection, as this is responsible for the flavors as well as the sweetness or tartness of the drink. Moreover, not every good tasting apple is suitable for cider making. Especially good are the small, sour and wrinkled, often old apple varieties. Once the variety selection has been made, the actual production can begin. Often, after harvesting, the apples are stored for a while to develop their aromas before processing begins.
First, the apples are sorted and subjected to cleaning. Before the actual pressing takes place, the fruit is crushed. This is usually done with the aid of a fruit mill. The resulting coarse pulp is then pressed and the resulting must is transferred to tanks or barrels for fermentation. If the apple cider is produced industrially, special yeast cultures, such as champagne yeast, are usually added to the must to optimize the fermentation process. However, bottling the apple drink in champagne bottles for "classic bottle fermentation" is also practiced. In France in particular, the "Método tradicional" is used, in which a little yeast and sugar are added to each bottle to achieve re-fermentation. The result is a "Cidre Bouche", a cider made by bottle fermentation.
During fermentation, the conversion of fructose into alcohol takes place, that is, the carbohydrates contained in the must are fermented into carbon dioxide (compound of carbon and oxygen CO²) and ethanol (alcohol C2H6O). Since fermentation takes place at low temperatures, this process takes a relatively long time, from several weeks to a year, which affects the aroma of the beverage. Before the yeasts have completely converted the sugar, fermentation is stopped and the apple beverage is decanted without air inclusion into new barrels, which are then sealed airtight. However, the suspended solids and yeasts remain in the old barrel.
The carbonic acid produced by fermenting the remaining sugar makes the apple cider not only sparkling, but also durable. In most cases, however, additional carbonic acid is added to the apple cider. An increase in alcohol content is achieved by adding sugar. Although the apple cider is ready to drink after a short time, it can be stored in the barrel for two to four years without any loss of quality. Bottled or canned, the apple drink is offered to the customer on the market. You can also buy the delicious cider in our cider store.
Apple cider - the blending
Very often apple ciders are blended. That is, they are made not only from one type of apple, but from several. This has the advantage that blending makes it possible to define a consistent taste, and this is also possible with industrial mass production. However, after blending, the apple cider is not only filtered, but also pasteurized for longer shelf life. It is also possible to add sulfites for preservation, which are already present as a natural product in fruit ciders, and to add flavors.
Make your own apple cider - step-by-step instructions.
Of course, you can also make your own apple cider from your apples, harvested from your own apple trees or bought from the supermarket. You will need:
- Mixed apples
- Glass carboy
- Sodium or potassium sulfite
- Fining agent
- Fermentation bung
- Kitchen or muslin cloth
- Bottles for bottling
The first step is to collect, pick or buy the apples you need. You should use apples of different varieties, as this will give you an apple cider with a unique taste. As a guideline, 10 kilograms of apples will yield approximately five to seven liters of cider.
After you have cleaned the apples, remove only the damaged areas and cut the apples into small pieces. Do not remove the peels, as they contribute to the flavor development. After chopping, put the fruit in the juicer to obtain the must.
Strain the apple juice through a fine kitchen towel or muslin cloth to remove lumps.
Before transferring the must to the glass carboy, sterilize it using sodium or potassium sulfite. Never use soap, because it would negatively affect the taste. If the glass container is sterile, you can put the juice in it without hesitation.
Now add a little more sodium or potassium sulfite to the juice and let the liquid sit for a day.
Only after the resting period, add the special yeast (brewing yeast, wine yeast or champagne yeast), which you can purchase online, to the apple juice. To do this, take a little apple juice and put it in a cup, which you then heat in the microwave to a maximum of lukewarm. Add the yeast to this lukewarm must and stir vigorously. Only then add the must-yeast mixture to the glass carboy and stir the contents again.
Now close the balloon with the help of the fermentation bung. After 24 hours, fermentation begins, which can be seen by the formation of foam. Rest is also called for now, and for two weeks.
After these two weeks, the apple cider will start bubbling and you will need to add some more sodium or potassium sulfite. After about a day, the apple cider will clear up.
To achieve complete clarification of the apple cider, add in the fining agent as well.
After you have also cleaned the bottles for filling analogous to the glass balloon with sodium or potassium sulfite, the bottles can be filled. To do this, place the glass carboy on a flat surface and fill the drink into the bottles using the siphon and the hose.
Now you can taste the apple cider once to see if it still lacks sweetness. If it does, then add a little sweetener, never sugar.
Once you have sealed the bottles well, you should let it rest for another two weeks. The longer an apple cider rests, the better it tastes.
The optimal storage temperature for an apple cider is ten degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the drink develops its full aroma. It is advantageous to store it in a cool cellar or storage room, protected from sunlight, heat and moisture. Unopened bottles can be stored for up to one year. Opened bottles should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within three days due to the progressing fermentation process.
Apple cider - its flavors
Apple cider is divided into two flavor categories, namely:
- Sweet or Doux / Demi-Sec: with an alcohol content of two to four percent by volume. In this category, the fruity flavors predominate.
- Dry or Brut / Extra-Brut: with an alcohol content of approximately five percent by volume. These apple ciders have a more complex aroma, are less fruity and more tart.
In general, the longer the ripening process, the more alcohol by volume the apple drink will have and the more tart it will taste. If the ripening process is stopped, it tastes sweeter, is carbonated and lower in alcohol than the tart, drier Brut. However, there are still many ciders on the market that differ in flavor and profile, such as Strongow Cider Red Berries.
The spectrum of flavors in apple ciders includes refreshing, fruity, semi-dry flavors that have a good balance of tartness and acidity, such as Bulmers Original Premium Cider and Strongbow Cider Gold Apple, as well as pure apple ciders. But also sweet-fruity notes like pear for example the "Stibitzer Apple Pear Cider", kiwi like the "Old Mout Cider Kiwi & Lime", flavors of ripe red berries like the "Strongbow Cider Red Berries" and of tropical fruits like passion fruit, passion fruit, lychees and limes can be found among the apple ciders. Of course, floral aromas, such as a hint of elderflower and flowers of all kinds, as well as spicy notes, such as nutmeg, are not missing from the flavor palette.
Even whisky is transferred to cider barrels by some distilleries after aging in sherry and bourbon casks to achieve its finish. Such whisky boasts soft, sweet flavors of malt and oak paired with fresh apple notes. Pure apple ciders also feature a fruity flavor with a balance of sweet and sour.
All of these flavors and the cider whiskey can be found in our Cider Shop. Here you can buy these ciders, even in different containers.
- Apple cider - what dishes can it be combined with?
Like all other wine drinks, apple cider can be combined with food. But it is also super suitable as an aperitif for special moments. Not only is it a real alternative to wine and beer, it also offers a great taste experience.
With a dry or semi-dry apple cider you can wonderfully complement a tarte flambée or onion tart, hearty meat dishes, such as ribs with sauerkraut or a roast pork with cabbage and dark sauce, as well as dishes with fish and seafood. But it also tastes great with galettes (crêpes made from buckwheat) or crêpes, with baguettes, lard bread and with dishes with tomatoes and cheese of all kinds.
A fruity or spicy apple cider with aromas of apples or pears, or with vanilla or cinnamon notes, can be served with apple pie or cakes with cream and chocolate. A cider with apple and wild berry flavors goes very well with a rabbit stew and roast game. If you serve the somewhat more tart apple cider with roasted poultry or roasted or grilled beef, then you have made the right decision.
Cider goes down particularly well at summer parties with friends or family barbecues in the garden. Here, the well chilled fresh fruity drink should not be missing.
Apple cider - drinking culture
Apple cider should also be drunk from a suitable glass. Only in this way can you enjoy it in its full variety of flavors. Ideally, you should drink the drink from a cider glass. This glass is bulbous with a wide opening and has a short stem or no stem. Take a look at it in our cider store, because here you can buy not only cider, but also the accompanying glasses. Alternatively, you can also enjoy the drink from a bulbous beer tulip or a bulbous red wine glass. However, optimal for traveling is to access the apple drink in a can or bottles with a capacity of 0.33 liters, because you can drink directly from them.
In France, however, cider is not drunk from glasses, but from a bolée, a small bulbous, thick ceramic cup without a handle. In England, apple cider is tapped in the same way as beer and served and drunk in so-called pint glasses, a kind of long-drink glass. The northern Spanish almost perform a ceremony when pouring their Sidra. Here, the waiter holds the bottle to be poured far above his head and the glass as low as possible. The Sidra therefore first flows through the air for quite a distance before it reaches the glass. This has the advantage that the rather "still" Sidra touches the air and thus becomes "sparkling".
In general, apple sparkling wine should be drunk at ten to 12 degrees Celsius, as it develops its full aroma at this temperature. If you want to combine the apple sparkling wine as a summer drink with food or cake, then a drinking temperature of seven degrees is optimal, that is, it should be iced. Also, if you want to enjoy the fresh fruity apple cider outside on warm summer days, you should serve it on ice cubes. The same applies if you serve a cocktail apple cider with whiskey or with cola. No matter which way you choose to enjoy your apple cider, it is a delicious apple drink that tastes good not only in summer.
Apple cider is an interesting, refreshing, delicious, carbonated drink made from apple juice or cider, respectively, in many countries around the world. The drink originated in England, but France is the leading country in cider production. But also in Spain the Sidra, as the apple cider is called there, has a long tradition. It is available in flavors ranging from sweet and sweet to dry and tart. Of course, it is also offered in other flavors such as red berries, exotic and citrus fruits for example kiwi, lychee and lime, which you can also find in our cider store. Here you can buy cider in different containers. While apple cider is especially popular as a refreshing drink in the summer months, it is also an excellent accompaniment to food and a much sought-after aperitif. In short, apple cider is not only very tasty and refreshing, but it is also versatile. You should definitely try this apple drink neat with ice or combined with a great meal. Apple cider will delight you.