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Moved into a new house with an apple tree? Or need to know if you can make cider from the apple tree growing in your garden or field?

Now you can get any apple identified by two organisations offering identification services:

Send three well-formed apples, with a couple of leaves preferably, packed carefully to avoid being crushed.

You will then be sent back the name of your apple variety within a month.

Visit the sites listed for the postal address and costs for identification.

Here is a list of the basic equipment for Cider Making, you can get these items from any good home-brew shop or even ebay for a job lot.

  • Sterilising and cleaning: Sodium metabisulphite and nylon long handled bottle brush
  • Washing: Plastic tub or dustbin – to wash apples
  • Scratting: Sturdy plastic bucket and timber for crushing apples
  • Pressing: Cider press with medium mesh nylon bag
  • Fermentation: 1 gallon demijohns or 5 gallon plastic vessels
  • Fermentation: Fermentation locks, ‘bubbler’ type
  • Fermentation: Hydrometer
  • Racking off: 2 metre clear plastic tubing

The Apple boat in Bristol has fast become a popular cider haven in Bristol docks.

This converted Dutch barge is championing the produce of cider makers in the south west.

The Apple may no longer be able to sell this world-class locally produced Cider, please take a few seconds to sign the petition and forward the link to everyone you know who values The Apple and Real Cider.

Sign the petition

An old, but very comprehensive guide to finding cider is on the Independent newspaper web site.

Starting off with this statement

The Wurzels couldn’t get enough of it and Julius Caesar liked a tipple, too. Cider may be seen as an English drink, but discovers its appeal stretches from France and Spain to as far afield as South Africa and the US

Where exactly is cider country?

For our purposes, wherever cider’s the traditional tipple. Cider is now made all over the world from Oregon to Cape Town (the cider market in South Africa is the second biggest in the world after the UK). However, to experience traditional cider-making you should head for Herefordshire, Somerset, Normandy in France or Asturias in Spain.

The best place to start is in Somerset

Somerset has the greatest number of registered farmhouse cider-makers in England. Most are found around the fringes of the Levels, a flat land of big skies and big floods wedged between the Mendips, Quantocks and Blackdown Hills. Certain areas produce particularly good cider, and in Somerset these are located around Wedmore, Glastonbury and Martock.

Enter Roger Wilkins

Roger Wilkins

Roger Wilkins. Photo credit: Jonathan Latimer

For a good introduction to traditional Somerset cider, call on Roger Wilkins (01934 712385), whose farm sits on a sheltered slope in Mudgley south of Wedmore. In the business for 45 years, Wilkins is a well-known character among Somerset producers and in his unkempt barn he offers nothing but traditional scrumpy from the barrel (medium or dry). In summer there’s often a gathering of locals enjoying a glass of the deliciously fruity cider while they wait to fill up their containers to take home.

It then goes onto travelling farther afield to look at ciders in France, Spain and America.

Definitely worth a read if you are a newcomer to cider, or if you want to learn more about international ciders. Read the full article

Thanks to brands like Magners, cider has become a big summer drink.

In fact, the 3rd most popular in the UK:

  1. Pimms 26%
  2. Beer/Lager 24%
  3. Cider 14%
  4. Soft Drink 12%
  5. Rose Wine 5%
  6. White Wine 5%
  7. Prosecco 4%
  8. Gin and Tonic 3%
  9. Champagne 1%
  10. Vodka and Tonic 1%
  11. Other 1%

Cider – that most teenage of alcoholic drinks – has suddenly become cool again.

Artisan producers are popping up across the country, and an increasing number of cider festivals are appearing on the summer calendar.

A fashionable drink like Magners is without doubt a far cry from the cider of the 1990s which was consumed by three less than cool social groups: Teenagers necking ‘White Lightening’ in the park, elderly farmers finding bits of squirrel in home made scrumpy, or Levellers fans.

Today’s British ciders are increasingly becoming as sophisticated as wine, with specific regions, apples, styles and production methods spearheading its revival.

Camilla and Prince Charles tasting Severn Sider

Camilla & Prince Charles tasting Severn Sider - Photo Credit: NACM

Connoisseur’s will immediately say Thatchers is the big name in apple ciders with full flavours separating the men from the boys. There are slightly lighter apple ciders such as Waitrose’s superb Cox’s Apple cider to try if Thatchers proves too much on your first cider encounter.

For a special occasion, i.e. not in the pub garden, it’s worth trying a vintage or ‘dated cider’ which a lot of top end off licences have started stocking. A safe start might well be Henry Weston 2007 Vintage Cider; well safe in terms of taste but alcohol wise it’s a whopping 8.2 per cent, so leave the car at home. In some circles Pear Cider or ‘Perry’ is deemed a more refined drink than its apple cousin (it’s lighter and less sweet) so if you really want to push the boat out try a bottle of the rather flashy Kopparberg.

Of course no exploration of the cider world would be complete without mentioning Cider Festivals. Now before you start thinking about old man’s scrumpy and dogs with string for leads again, these events are way more exciting than their beer equivalent: For starters there are girls there. Secondly they nearly always take place in beautiful parts of the country such as Bath and involve everyone being legless by mid afternoon… if you can’t pull there then you may as well give up.

And talking of festivals one of the best kept secrets of Glastonbury is the ‘cider bus’ at the back of the main stage serving what could take over from beer as the new winter drink; Hot Spiced Cider.

Cider’s recent overhaul from scary scrumpy to fashionable festival tipple is well documented. Now its lesser-known sibling, perry, has also had a makeover.

Waitrose’s perry sales are up 42 per cent from last year and Magners has just launched Magners Pear with an £8million marketing campaign.

Perry, sometimes known as pear cider, is a drink made with fermented pears instead of apples. And if you’ve ever slurped a Babycham or a warm glass of Lambrini then you’ve already tried it.

Magners has dubbed 2009 the ‘year of the pear’. Like many of the larger brands, including Gaymers and Bulmers, it has opted to call its new drink a pear cider, rather than ‘perry’.

While the Campaign for Real Ale tends to agree and simply defines real, draught perry as: ‘Consisting entirely of non-pasteurised pear… no pear juice concentrates [are] to be used,’ real aficionados believe only pears from the perry pear triangle – the Three Counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, whose traditional perry is protected by a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) – should be used.

‘Perry has to be made from perry pears and is very traditional. Pear cider can use any pear, including culinary fruits.’

Perry pear trees is they take a long time to fruit. Lots of  orchards were lost when perry and cider went out of fashion. With perry back in demand hopefully will signal more orchards being restocked with pear, as well as apple trees.

So, if you’re thinking of switching to the pear, does it make a difference whether you go for farmhouse perry or big-brand fizz?

Perry is less sweet than cider, has a delicate flavour and you can drink it with the same fish and chicken dishes that go with dry white wine. Look for drinks that name their varieties of perry pear. Also, they tend to have fantastic brand names such as Merrylegs and Dunkertons.

It looks like there could be many more converts to Cider and Perry before the summer is out!