Skip to main content

A Taste of Fall: Hard Cider

Hard Cider Serves Up Autumn in a Glass

In the United States, the term cider has always referred to apple juice but in England and other European countries cider means an adult beverage made from fermented apples. We know it as hard cider and it's been an American tradition since Colonial days. Now hard cider is back in vogue and has tripled in sales since the trend emerged in 2007.

 Why the recent surge in popularity? One reason is because hard cider is a light and refreshing alternative for drinkers who want something other than beer or wine that has a similar or lower alcohol content. It is also a natural gluten free beverage for the wheat intolerant.
 
 
 
 Like beer and wine, there are so many varieties available in the hard cider world that it's not hard to find the ideal choice—sweet, dry, sharp or bittersweet—to suit your taste. The whole farm to market movement has helped accelerate this trend with apple orchards, especially in the major apple producing states of Washington, New York and Michigan, partnering with cider makers to create flagship brews with local apples. Add to this the renewed interest of chefs and bartenders who are creating new dishes and cocktails with hard ciders and you have the makings of a culinary phenomenon. 






 
 
 
For many years, only a few major brands like Strongbow, Crispin and Woodchuck ruled the hard cider market but they are starting to face serious competition from such innovative start-ups as Jack's Hard Cider in Pennsylvania, Albemarle Ciderworks in North Garden, Virginia and Noble Cider in Asheville, North Carolina. Most of these smaller cider operations are dedicated to only using local apples from their state and are creating complex and distinctively flavored ciders. 



What sort of apples make the best cider? According to Shane Doughty of Jack's Hard Cider, "Your very tart, very acidic apples, such as crabapples, make good cider. And those aren't particularly great to eat. But industry wide, that's a difference of opinion with some people." Trevor Baker, for instance, with Noble Cider, has had great success using a variety of eating apples for their brews such as the Mutsu, the Crispin, Stayman-Winesaps, Courtlands and Jonagolds. His cider, which began its operation in 2012, also has plans to grow more than 30 apple varieties for future ciders such as "the older Colonial apples like Thomas Jefferson was growing—Newton Pippins and Roxbury Russet—as well as some British cider fruits and those from the Normandy area."

The alcohol level of most hard ciders is around 7.5 percent but there are more potent varieties available. "GoldRush, which we just started releasing, is ten percent," said Chuck Shelton of Albemarle Ciderworks. "There are state laws of what you can call cider. In Virginia, we've had to change it to allow for 10 percent alcohol. And that's determined by the amount of sugar in the apple in fermenting. We're not adding sugar to raise this at all. That was just a really high sugared apple that produced that." 

In general, hard ciders are produced within a sixty day period which allows sufficient time for the pressed apple juice to properly ferment and be ready to drink from the keg. If bottled, they are best enjoyed within the first two years of storage. Most ciders are carbonated though there are a few still varieties on the market such as Farnum Hill Extra Dry Still Cider from Lebanon, New Hamphire. Shane Doughty of Jack's Hard Cider said, "I would always recommend that people drink cider on the colder side, not room temperature. I think most ciders drink similar to a white wine where you'd want a little chill to them." 

Although apples have traditionally been the main ingredient for hard cider, some brewers are experimenting with other fruits and creating adventurous new blends. Noble Cider is planning on releasing a limited edition for the holiday season made from apples, spiced figs and raisins with the flavor profile of a Christmas pudding and Jack's Hard Cider has created both a peach cider and pear cider in addition to their signature brands. Jupiter's Legacy from Albemarle Cider is a special blend made from Virginia apples and apple juice from several bittersweet apple varieties in New Hampshire.

Top chefs who create food pairings with cider is another way people are learning about this classic beverage and its versatility. Baker suggests serving a dry cider with a charcuterie plate or with spicy meats like Eastern-style barbecue with a vinegar based sauce. Bartenders are also revisiting hard ciders in tried-and-true favorites like the Poor Man's Black Velvet, which is 1/2 pint lager or stout with 1/2 pint dry hard cider. Other mixologists are introducing more exotic concoctions like Waltzing with Vincent Price, a Halloween cocktail consisting of French hard cider with port, cognac and Benedictine which is served at La Belle Vie in Minneapolis. 





Reprint HGTV

Popular posts from this blog

The Best Perennial Plants for Cottage Gardens

Choosing the best plants for your style of gtardening takes some time and thought process. If you have an informal garden then perhaps the cottage mix would work well for you,  I like perennials not only because you only have to plant once, but because they put on a magnificient showy display year after year with very little pruning or maintenance.  You get more bang for the buck.The best perennials plants for your particular garden should include a mix of short, medium and tall plants that bloom early, mid season and late season.  I encourage gardeners to plant lots of white perennials to contrast the bold riotous colors from the rest of the perennials.
I have listed a few of my favorites, which does not include the entire range and selection of perennials.   drop me a cmment and let me know your favorites.


 Hollyhocks are by far my favorite cottage garden plant.  The height brings your eyes up to view the blossoms and gently guides you to view the trees, the sky, the birds flying in m…

7 Steps to Creating a Quaint English Garden

Plan a Cottage garden today and enjoy a spring floral show. Planning a Cottage Garden does not take a lot of work, but will take any inspiration and creativity. A Garden Cottage is whimsical and naturalistic, and it speaks to you, “Come, stroll, stay awhile.”

A good cottage garden plan will incorporate many elements, including a butterfly garden, a small water feature, curved paths, quiet sitting areas, seasonal plants and a herb garden. Cottage Garden’s tend to clutter plants, and they have a burst of color from traditional cottage garden plants, hollyhocks, foxglove, four o’clock, delphiniums, daisies, coneflowers, Echinaceas and last but certainly not least is the lovely roses.



The first steps in planning your cottage gardens are listed below:


1. Make a list of the elements and ideas you want in your cottage garden and draw your cottage garden on paper (it is easier to erase than transplant)  2. Make a list of trees, plants and seasonal plants to buy  3. Garden by thirds, evergreens, de…

Garden Design Basics