All posts tagged: cider apples

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:

A top ten of apples!

Orange Pippin have listed the 10 most popular apple varieties pages voted by their community.

If you want to know what apples are the most popular or to discover what make each apple unique then this news article is for you.

To learn more, click on the individual links for each apple, which takes you to a full description for the apple.

  1. Photo of Cox's Orange Pippin Cox’s Orange Pippin apple

    Is this the best-flavored dessert apple ever – probably.

  2. Photo of Pink Lady Pink Lady apple

    One of the best-known modern apple varieties – and one of the most popular pages on this website.

  3. Photo of Granny Smith Granny Smith apple

    The most instantly-recognised of all apples, and perhaps Australia’s most famous export.

  4. Photo of Blenheim Orange Blenheim Orange apple

    An 18th century English dual-purpose apple which remains very popular as a garden variety.

  5. Photo of Egremont Russet Egremont Russet apple

    The definitive English russet apple.

  6. Photo of Arkansas Black Arkansas Black apple

    A long-keeping tart apple from Arkansas, USA – which goes almost black in storage.

  7. Photo of Fuji Fuji apple

    A very attractive modern apple, crisp, sweet-flavoured, and keeps well.

  8. Photo of Crispin (Mutsu) Crispin (Mutsu) apple

    A versatile dual-purpose apple, sharp but still pleasant to eat fresh.

  9. Photo of SpartanSpartan apple

    Attractive, crunchy, sweet, easy to grow, and with the characteristic delicate wine-like “vinous” flavor of the McIntosh family of apples – but flavour fades rapidly in storage so definitely best eaten straight from the tree.

  10. Photo of Jonagold Jonagold apple

    Very popular commercial variety

Link to original articleThe top 10 apples at Orange Pippin

In 1938, PTH Pickford, Cider Orcharding Advisor to the National Fruit and Cider Institute [Long Ashton Research Station] wrote in an article:

According to many farmers, Dorset was the first county in England to make cider. It is claimed that the art of cider-making was first introduced into this county by monks from northern France who settled in a village near Bridport some time before the Norman Conquest. . . . Whether this be true or not, Dorset certainly ranks with the counties in the West of England which have produced cider for centuries.’ P T H Pickford

The Cider Institute was founded in 1903 largely through the backing of the Bath & West
Agricultural Society, with the main aim of improving the quality of cider. By the mid 1920s, much work had been done and much knowledge of good cider-making gained. Cider had become a purer more refined drink and had achieved the status of a wholesome national product and a prosperous home industry. Pickford’s survey at the time revealed that the custom of ‘cider as wages’ was dying out and the surplus farmhouse cider, usually a dry, often sharp beverage was only popular with the older members of the farming community.

The pressure to produce a more marketable product led Pickford to initiate a series of extremely popular and successful cider-making training courses in regional locations. His notes give us a clear picture of the extent of Dorset cider orchards in 1938, and also provide us with vital clues towards rediscovering those that survive to this day.

Although the acreage of Dorset’s orcharding is small compared with that of the other counties, it must be remembered that apart from the comparative size of Dorset, the soil in a big proportion of the county is of the type totally unsuitable for fruit culture. In those areas where the soil is suitable however the orchards thrive and are numerously planted and here the production of cider fruit is as much a business as it is in Somerset and Devon.

The largest cider orchard area lies in West Dorset towards the Devon border including and around the neighbourhood of Loders, Powerstock, Netherbury, Beaminster, Broadwindsor and Stoke Abbott. There are smaller areas around Thorncombe, Whitchurch, Wootton Fitzpaine, Chideock and Symondsbury. Most of these orchards are planted in medium loams derived from the middle lias, but there are also quite a number planted in the very light soil of the Bridport sands, in particular around Melplash.

In other parts of Dorset the orchard areas are smaller and widely scattered throughout the county. There is a considerable acreage around Leigh and Chetnole where a good proportion are planted in heavy loams from the Oxford clay. Scattered orchards are found around both Gillingham and Shaftesbury and again around Sturminster Newton, but cider orchards are more numerous in the neighbourhood of Child Okeford, Shillingstone and Hammoor where a good deal of cider is produced. Yet another area worthy of mention is that around Piddlehinton and Piddletrenthide where numerous orchards are found growing in the alluvium of the narrow valleys.

Unlike the other cider counties, Dorset has never had any major cider producing factories such as Whiteways or Showerings. Sadly, because of this and in spite of Pickford’s professional instruction, cider-making never re-gained a secure status in Dorset, but remained an extremely local pursuit. Orchards that once supplied the liquid requirements of many staff and farm workers have now declined to a skeletal echo of their pre-War status. Our visits so far in 2004 have shown us a little of their former strength. The remnants of some of the old orchards contain grand old trees clearly dating back to more prosperous times.

Typical West Country varieties appear; Crimson King, Woodbine and various dual purpose cider/kitchen apples. Interestingly, and perhaps because of Dorset’s rather inaccessible terrain, many of the cider apple varieties grown are peculiar to the county and are seldom seen across the borders into Somerset and Devon. Traditionally Dorset cider is soft, sweet and mild in astringency. This regional distinctiveness comes from Dorset’s own varieties, some of which we have already re-discovered such as Buttery Door, Golden Ball, Slack-ma-Girdle, Syme’s Seedling and Golden Bittersweet. Some will be the last remaining trees of these distinctive regional varieties and they deserve to be looked after and re-propagated before they disappear. The Long Ashton records reveal many other Dorset cider apples that could still be found.

Although by far the majority of Dorset’s orchards were primarily cider orchards, some such as Stubbs Orchard, were clearly planted [before 1890] to supply large quantities of ‘commercial’ fruit, eaters and cookers. Here we discovered growing together with the cider apple trees, a selection of excellent and popular Victorian varieties including Harvey, Ribston Pippin, Royal Jubilee, Blenheim and Lord Derby, all of which are still happily being used by the present owners to create an excellent home cider.

Reference: Liz Copas 2004 The Symondsbury apple project

Thanks to a natural hybridisation between two fruits, thousand of years ago edible apples developed, and the discovery of a refreshing glass of cider began.

Travelling through the Middle East, to Turkey, and then across to what would become Britain, neolithic people were familiar with planting and working with the wild apple Malus syvelstris.

1204 AD is the first written record in this country we have of cider as a form of payment by a manor in Runham, Norfolk.

The Celts made a crab apple cider before this, and continued to be improved by the Romans, who developed cider making equipment for crushing and extraction of the apple juice they produced from their newly planted orchards.

When the Romans left it was the Christians turn to keep the orchards thriving in small pockets of land. The Normans introduced a number of new cider apples.

During the dark ages, monks preserved the knowledge of cider making, assisted by the Bishop of Bath who bought cider presses for his monastery in 1230.

Henry VIII sent fruiterer Richard Harris to France who bought back new varieties, including the Pippin, and created orchards in Kent, now the fruit basket of England.

Throughout the 17th Century the number of orchards increased, and the preference of Cider compared to fine wines grew more popular amongst gentry and royalty.

In the 18th Century, Cider became the drink for all classes to enjoy. More farms produced cider to give as payment to their workers, a second pressing of the apple pomace resulted in a cider that was around 2-3% ABV. Half a gallon for breakfast, same for lunch and more which they carried in the fields.

Cider Drinker - Photo Credit: NACM

Cider Drinker - Photo Credit: NACM

Into the latter part of the 19th Century, and cider was approached more scientifically, by fruit growing societies and clubs to improve and experiment with grafts of cider trees, look at the best varieties and efficient production processes.

A campaign to stop payment in the form of alcoholic beverages brought about the addition of a clause to the Truck Act of 1887 which prohibited the payment of wages in this way.

Today, modern cider making still relies on the same basic principles as have applied for centuries. The taste for cider has been rediscovered and a quiet revolution has begun.

Sales of cider are increasing strongly, with this success has come a greater demand for good quality cider fruit. Farmers and land-owners throughout the west country have planted over 8,000 acres of new orchards in the last decade.

It’s a success for farms, the conservation of our ancient cider apple varieties and for cider drinker’s who demand real cider.