All posts in: About Cider

Why not use some of your apples to make this delicious chutney? Great with bread, cheese and cider!  (a BBC Food Recipe)

Ingredients

225g (8oz) onions, chopped
900g (2lb) apples, cored and chopped
110g (4oz) sultanas, raisins or chopped dates
15g (½oz) ground coriander
15g (½oz) paprika
15g (½oz) mixed spice
15g (½oz) salt
340g (2oz) granulated sugar
425ml (¾ pint) malt vinegar

Method

1. Put all the ingredients into a preserving pan. Slowly bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Simmer for 1½-2 hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.
3. When it is very thick and you can draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, the chutney is then ready.
4. Put into sterilised jars, seal and cool.
5. The chutney is best stored in a cool, dark cupboard for two to three months before eating (if you can wait that long!)

The annual awards in Herefordshire, coinciding with the blossom time event, had a good number of entries this year.

The small scale cider makers that enter these awards had to pick from their collection of ciders and perries that had been fermenting over the winter.. Due to the long, extremely cold winter the fermentation of wild yeasts in the fruit had taken longer than usual.

However, a fantastic collection of craft ciders were entered from Wales and the borders of Herefordshire and Shropshire – great to see a combination of real pro’s and newcomers to the awards..

Notable awards:

Full results

Download the full results (PDF)

Competition rules

The rules for the awards are here, should you want to enter next year – absolute novices are welcome!

If you can seek out any of this award winning cider then you will not be disappointed.

A food blogger in Suffolk took a fantastic selection of photographs over the weekend, it captures the essence of what makes cider making and the traditional process of pressing apples so special.

A perfectly timed break in the wet weather cleared the way for a wonderful Saturday gathering apples from a favourite orchard in Suffolk.

Adding apples to the scratter. A mechanical set of teeth that creates a pulp of the apples. © Eat Pictures Food Photography 2010

The apple pulp is then added to the apple press to make juice. © Eat Pictures Food Photography 2010

The photos show the typical process in traditional juicing of apples, to make cider, or in this case just apple juice which is just as magical as it gets:

Can’t even begin to tell you how sweet, perfumed, fresh and alive this stuff tastes.

View the full set of photos at eatpictures

The results of the International Cider Challenge 2010 are in. This is the first year of the competition and it attracted over a hundred entries.

Drinks International recruited a panel of cider experts to blind taste the ciders, which were then awarded trophies and medals.

The overall trophy winner was Merrydown Medium Cider. Judges were Simon Russell from Inside Media, Helen Thomas from Westons Cider, David Sheppy from Sheppy’s Cider, drinks journalist Guy Thornton, cider historian James Crowden and PR consultant Deborah Collinson.

Chairman of the judges and Drinks International editor Christian Davis said: “We had cider from all over the world, including Czech Republic, US, South Africa and Canada. We were really pleased to have such a good response – especially from an international perspective. People think cider is an English drink but the competition demonstrates that it’s truly international.

“There’s a real sense of community in the cider industry and there is a need for this sort of competition. Judges regarded competitors’ products in a very positive way and I think the competition was appreciated by the cider community.”

If you can try and track down some of these fine international award winning ciders!

Results:

Trophy Winner

Merrydown Medium Cider

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Best in Category

Sweet Cider Premium

Westons Oak Conditioned Medium Sweet

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Medium Cider – Mainstream

Mercury Artisan Cider

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Medium Cider – Premium

Merrydown Medium Cider

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Medium Cider – Super Premium

Stassen Excellence

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Dry Cider – Premium

Waitrose Organic Vintage Cider

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Perry/ Pear Cider Premium

Hogan’s Vintage Perry 2009

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Organic, Fruit Cider and Specialities Premium

M&S Cider with Raspberry

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Organic, Fruit Cider and Specialities Super Premium

Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider

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Gold Winners

Neige Premiere, Ice Cider

Gaymers Stewley

Merrydown Medium Cider

Waitrose Organic Vintage Cider

Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider

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Silver Winners

Maddens Mellow Armagh Cider

Westons Oak Conditioned Medium Sweet

Mercury Artisan

The Orchard Pig Medium 6.5%abv

Gaymers Newton Vale

Henry Weston Vintage 2009 Cider

Strongbow Clear

Woodgate Dry Amber Cider

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Suffolk Cyder

Hogan’s Vintage Perry 2009

Autumn Harvest Perry

Aspall Organic Suffolk Cyder

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Bronze Winners

Kopparberg with Mixed Fruit

Kopparberg with Elderflower and Lime

Churchwards Original Cider

Strongbow Original

Mercury Draught

Brothers Bittersweet Apple Cider

Carsons Crisp Armagh Cider

Addlestones

Mad Apple

Autumn Harvest Cider

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference French Sparkling Cider

Aspall Draught Suffolk Cyder

Stassen Excellence

Tillington Hill

Waitrose Leckford Vintage Cider

Westons Oak Conditioned Medium Dry

M&S Vintage 2009 Cider

Merrydown Dry Cider

L’aunay Cidre 3yr old Brut Sparkling Champagne style

Aspall Premier Cru

Bulmers Pear

M&S Vintage Pear Cider

Katy Rose

Aspall Peronelle’s Blush

Biddenden Special Reserve

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Commended Winners

Bulmers Original

The Orchard Pig Medium 4.2%abv

Thatchers Gold

Friels

Gaymer’s Devon

Gaymer’s Somerset

Morrisons The Best Vintage

Westons Oak Conditioned Extra Dry

Orchard Hills Pear Cider

Stassen Cider-Pear

Biddenden Monks Delight

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Design & Packaging

Gold Winners

Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider New

Carsons Crisp Armagh Cider

Thatchers Gold

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Silver Winners

Green Goblin

Hogan’s Vintage Perry 2009

Tillington Hill

Autumn Harvest Cider

Maddens Mellow Armagh Cider

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Bronze Winners

Stassen Excellence

Brothers Bittersweet Apple Cider New

Stassen Cider-Apple New

Stassen Cider-Pear New

Brothers Tutti Frutti Cider New

Friels New

Strongbow Original

Strongbow Clear

Merrydown Medium Cider

It’s never been more popular to buy sustainably produced food and drink direct from the producer

People are enjoying local and ‘real’ food more now than ever and with that demand comes interest in what is contained in the food, or rather what isn’t. As well as where it is made and the methods used to create the final product.

This is certainly the case for traditional real cider.

So lets define what’s contained in real cider:

  • Hand or hydraulically pressed apple juice
  • Water to make up volume – but no more than 15% of the cider, otherwise the cider is no longer defined as ‘real’
  • Aspartine (nutrasweet) may be added to a cider to sweeten it if the apples are ‘dry’
  • Larger cider producers like Weston’s use sulphites to preserve the ciders longer on the shelves of shops
  • Cider that has been fermented in oak barrels that previously contained rum or whisky will have traces of the spirit which you’ll be able to taste – this adds to the flavour, eg: Kingston Black cider

Oak Cider Barrel

What’s not in real cider:

  • Real cider has not been pasteurised* or concentrated
  • E numbers
  • Colours
  • Syrups
  • Excessive water
  • Antioxidant

* Some cider’s may be heat treated to halt further microbial degradation of the cider.

Benefits of drinking real cider:

What is Specific Gravity (SG)?

The quick answer is “concentration of sugar in water”. Pure water has an SG value of 1.000, although this may be sometimes expressed as 1000 (dropping the decimal point). The more sugar dissolved in the water, the more viscous (or “syrupy”) the liquid becomes. This in turn gives a higher SG reading.

Around 3lb of sugar in 1 gallon (8 pints) of water will give about 1.100 SG (commonly expressed as 1100).

The SG that is achieved after the addition of sugar, but before the fermentation begins, is known as the Original Gravity – this phrase is common in the brewing of beer.

How much sugar to add?

With cider making, the sugar naturally occurs in the fruit. So none in needed when you first press the apples. However, if you require a conditioned – sparkling cider – then you will need to disolve sugar into the cider you siphon from a fermentation vessel into bottles.

Cider happily fermenting in the shed!

Alcohol Potential and Estimating % ABV

The general idea is that the fermentation process will turn all of the sugar into alcohol. This represents a reduction in the SG (remember SG measures concentration of sugar). The amount of reduction in SG therefore represents the amount of conversion to alcohol that has taken place – and can be therefore be used to determine the % ABV.

The alcohol content can be estimated, at it’s most simple, by taking 2 SG readings – The first is the Original Gravity (i.e. just after the addition of sugar), and the second is at bottling. The difference in these 2 readings represents the total drop in SG, and therefore the total amount of sugar converted to alcohol. For example an Original Gravity of 1100, and an SG at bottling of 1000 (implying that all sugar has gone) yields an % ABV of 13.6%

Typically, however, the final SG can be either side of 1000, if the fermentation has ended at 1005, this would represent a sweeter cider that one which ends at an SG of 1000, or even 995. The lower the final SG, the less residual sugars are present, and therefore the dryer the cider. SG readings of below 1000 are common, and this is due to a technicality – alcohol being less dense than water, which affects the reading that a hydrometer will take.

The mathematics involved in the simple calculation are: Take the difference in Original Gravity and final SG, and divide this by the magic number of 7.36

In Summary

  • Sugar is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process
  • The more sugar converted, the higher the final % abv
  • SG is the concentration of sugar in water
  • Sugar can be added to the must to raise the SG
  • Your recipe will tell you how much to add
  • You may have to take into account the natural fruit sugars, to prevent over sugaring
  • The SG after the sugar is added, and just before fermentation is known as the Original Gravity
  • Fermentation reduces the SG
  • The final SG on bottling can be compared against the Original Gravity to provide a % ABV estimate
  • The magic number is 7.36

Further resources