Long before British people started to drink wine, cider was the preferred alcoholic beverage along with ale. England is a large apple producer.
The juice any fruit fermented is called cider (except the grape) but over time cider has come to mean (fermented apple juice), and perry (fermented pear juice).
Even today millions of British like to enjoy cider and perry.
The world’s largest cider company, A.P. Bulmer, with a production of 400 million litres is located in England.
Apples grow in many other countries – France (Normandy and Brittany), Germany, Austria, Spain (Asturia), the U.S.A, Canada (Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia), South Africa, Italy, Turkey, China and many more.
Only high acid apples lend themselves to cider production.
Baldwin, Brown snout, Dabinett, Dymock red, foxwhelp, Kingston block, red stream, roxburry, russet, stoke red, Tremlett’s bitter, vista bella, idared, wine sap, yeoville sour, northern spy, mutsu, empire and muscadette de Dieppe are only some suitable for cider production.
After harvest, apples are ground, then layered on specially designed mats, and pressed. Once pressing starts, the process must be performed quickly to prevent oxidation. Fermentation is carried out at 4 – 16 C to preserve aromas, and shortly before completion the must has to be racked for a slightly carbonated cider.
Fermented apple juice is distilled, mainly in Normandy, France, and in smaller quantities in the U.S.A and Canada (mainly in Quebec) to apple brandy.
In Normandy apple brandy is called Calvados and contains 40 per cent alcohol by volume.
The alcohol content of cider varies between 2 – 8 ½ per cent ABV and occasionally can be more. High alcohol cider is called hard cider.
Argentina, Austria, Germany, Australia (Tasmania), Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden are notable cider producers.
In Ontario apples grow well, and there are several cider producers (The Brickworks Ciderhouse, Waupoos, Premium Cider Thornbury, and The old County Cider Company are only some of the larger Ontario cider producers.
Cider may be dry, off-dry, or sweet, still or sparkling.