Hard cider, long overshadowed by beer and wine here in the United States, has arrived! That is evident in the amount of cider makers that are opening up cider works and cider houses across the country. It is now common to find hard cider by the glass on restaurant wine lists, and cider specific pubs are popping up across the country in places like New York City (Wassail), Portland, Oregon (Bushwhacker) and even San Francisco (Upcider).
This week at Oliver’s Market, all hard ciders are 20% off. If you’re a loyal cider drinker, it’s the perfect time to stock up on your favorites. If you’re new to the hard cider category, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up a couple different bottlings and experience what cider is all about.
Now let’s take a closer look at the history of hard cider, how it’s made and a few other interesting things you may not have known about this fermented fruit beverage.
The History of Cider in America
Cider can be traced back to the first settlers of the New World. A lot of immigrants to America in the 17th and 18th centuries drank hard cider, among other things (beer, ale and brandy), because water was not a trusted source of hydration. Many hopeful farmers brought seeds with them, and within the first 40 years of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, apples quickly became one of the edible cash crops. By the 18th century, cider was a staple at every family table, and even a weaker version of cider, known as Ciderkin, was made for children to drink.
Apples spread west during the 19th century with the help of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. Chapman was a missionary for The New Church (Swedenborgian) and as he traveled just ahead of the westbound settlers he would plant small, fenced-in nurseries of cider apples. These nurseries could be found all over the Great Lakes and Ohio River regions. Once planted, Chapman left neighbors responsible for selling saplings to the arriving settlers. By the end of the 19th century it was not uncommon to find a small orchard at most homesteads.
Cider started to see a decline in the early 20th century. Immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe brought a taste for beer with them. The soil in the Midwest was also more barley-friendly and beer was quicker and easier to produce, so beer production took hold. The arrival of Prohibition in 1920 all but destroyed cider and after the repeal of Prohibition, most Americans never got their taste for cider back.
Today, cider is once again popular in America due in large part to Gluten free diets, as well as an increasing interest in producing craft brews.
How Cider is Made
Cider production is a pretty straight forward process and can be laid out in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: The Crush. After the apples have been harvested, they are run through a cider press which results in fresh apple juice.
Step 2: Fermentation. The fresh juice is then placed into a fermentation tank and a yeast strain is added to create alcohol.
Step 3: Filtration. When fermentation is complete, the hard cider is carefully cooled and run through a filter. This helps remove any remaining yeast or solids.
Step 4: Blending. Depending on the style of cider, different batches can be blended together to create the desired taste.
Step 5: Bottling. The final product is then bottled, labeled and ready for distribution.
The full cycle can take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years, depending on how long the cider is aged.
What to drink it with? Well, just about anything you would enjoy drinking beer or wine with, but especially good matches for cider are fresh seafood, spicy fare, and charcuterie plates.
Out of the many ciders that are on sale this week, here are three that we’re really excited about…
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse Prohibition
Sea Cider is located on beautiful Vancouver Island. This cider is made from heritage apples, fermented with Champagne yeast and aged in rum-soaked bourbon barrels. Watch for complex notes of rum, brown sugar, cinnamon and spiced apple.
Devoto Orchards Cider Save the Gravenstein
This dry cider is made from Gravenstein apples with a few other early season heirlooms blended in. It displays enticing notes of apple and lemon with a hint of sage and mint. Perfect with fresh oysters or Valley Ford Estero Gold cheese.
101 Cider House Cactus Red
This is not your typical hard cider. It is crafted with indigenous California Cactus Pears and then infused with Thai Basil. Vibrant in color with complex fruit-herbal characteristics. Get creative and craft a cocktail with it.
Our friendly and knowledgeable Wine Specialists are ready to help you select the cider that is perfect for you. Stop by Oliver’s Market this week and explore the wonderful world of cider.