In December we visited with Quebec in Canada, along with a passionate group Fruit Farmers and Cider producers from New England to learn about Ice cider production.
Organised by the Vermont department of Agriculture we visited two cider producers in the Rougemont area of Quebec. These producers are particularly well known for their traditional production of Ice Cider, known locally as ‘cidre de glace’. And Quebec being the birthplace of Ice cider in 1990 (1).
There are about fifty producers in the area. Most are of very small size, attracted in part by the very low capital costs required to enter the business.
Ice cider is a fermented beverage made from the frozen juice of apples. Which is then fermented
There are two processes:
- Cryoconcentration involves harvesting the fruits late in season and leaving them in fresh storage until late December, when they are pressed and the fresh juice is left to freeze naturally. In January, the concentrated juice begins the process of cold fermentation.
- Cryoextraction is similar to the traditional method used to produce ice wine: apples are left on the trees, at the mercy of the weather, until the end of January. They are picked when the temperature hovers around -8°C to -15°C, and then pressed and left to cold ferment for months.
Both the cidreries were built in 2005, and have already both won awards and accreditation.
The first producer was Michel Jodoin
This is truly a commercial operation, very strict production methods, which has recently become automated. They have a couple of scientists that ensure the Ice cider is correctly stored, fermented and bottled.
We tasted their ice cider and it was a quite caramelly, toffee flavour from the intense combination of tannis, and acids of the apples. At 9% giving a tendency towards a liquer drink enjoyed in a brandy glass or similar.
Slideshow of De Michel Jodoin Ciderie
The second producer was De Lavoie.
A producer that had a collection of 17,000 apple trees as well as vineyards on their estate.
We tasted Ice cider ‘Ace’ – the smell – was full of aromas of apples, with the scent of flowers, at around 10% alcohol. In the mouth, such a concentration of apple flavour hits you and gives a complex taste of a collection of different apple .
This ice cider won an award at the Coupe d’or in 2005.
The process for Ice Cider at De Lavoie is simple, but on a large scale:
900 litres of cider kept outside in sub-zero temperatures for 1 week, melted, then 150 litres of juice taken from the top of the barrel and fermented for 1 month in 12’c temperature controlled room. They stop the fermentation at 14% residual sugar.
Slideshow of De Lavoie Ciderie
I think you will see the two producers treat cider more like a wine product in their industrial units – compared to the large plastic barrels that you may see at a West country cider producer’s farm.
If you ever visit this area you are in for a treat. Also great news for people in New England, USA. There are also Ice Cider producers here now! We were also fortunate to have the visit organised by Eleanor Leger, the first Ice cider maker in USA. They make Eden Ice Cider and is just starting to be distributed on the East Coast.
- (1) Wikipedia definition of Ice Cider