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January 24th, 2012

Apples for Cider

I read the article “A Taste of History” about hard cider in your magazine. Now I’m interested in learning what varieties of apples are used in making cider.

blog-dougAs reported in our article, traditional alcoholic cider is making a comeback, led by a group of American “micro-cideries” that ferment apples in small batches. Hard cider is a crisp, clear beverage, not to be confused with the sweet, cloudy, nonalcoholic juice that is sold in fall as apple cider.

Just as each variety of grape produces a wine of distinct flavor and character, the many types of apples give rise to a wide selection of hard ciders. Cider makers blend apples, including those with bitter and tannic flavors, to create the right balance of sweetness and acidity. Cider apples are grouped into four classes based on their flavor characteristics: sweet, sharp, bittersweet, and bittersharp.

Cider makers often look to the past for their inspiration, selecting heirloom apple varieties. But many are also experimenting with newer cultivars, such as ‘Jonagold’, ‘Lady’, and ‘Golden Delicious’. The websites of two of the regional makers mentioned in the article list the apple varieties that go into their ciders. They are Farnum Hill Ciders of New Hampshire and Tieton Cider Works (associated with Harmony Orchards) in Washington.  —Doug Hall

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