Cider……What’s it all about then?

Well to start with it’s a very old and ancient drink. Apples have been around since the dinosaurs died out which is about 50 – 60 million years ago. (In those days you couldn’t buy cider online).

For millennia these trees grew and cross pollinated. When primates and humans appeared they’d find a tree and take a bite from the fruit and never knew what flavour they were going to get. In fact the most really disgusting ones, incredibly bitter and tannic are the best ones for cider and are usually referred to as “spitters” !

Here’s a Michael Caine moment and not a lot of people know this:

The Latin name for apples is malus domestica rosaceae making it part of the Rose family. Originally it was growing wild in forests around Kazakhstan in central Asia where it can still be found today (malus sieversii) although we’re not sure if they have apple cider for sale online there.

Anyway……the Romans (who thought they knew it all) came to Britain in 55BC and found the locals drinking cider then. They also thought it was pretty good and soon it was being drunk all over the Roman Empire. Then the Germans got a taste for it and later the Normans who bought apple orchards to England in the 9th century and indeed the very word Cider or Cidre, as they called it.

Tracing it back however, it does seem that it originated from the 6th century BC Hebrew Shekhar meaning strong drink.

Back to the real thing…..CIDER.

So……………the Romans arrived and found us already getting pissed on fermented apple juice which we were grinding on big stone milling wheels which, by sheer coincidence is possibly one of the origins of the word “Cockeyed”.

Apparently to ensure that the two grinding wheels sat properly on top of each other one had a lump in the middle referred to as the “cock” and the other had a hole called the “eye” and it was essential to ensure they both mated properly so they rotated correctly.

When these were later used for milling grain to make flour, usually in a confined space, the miller had to keep a sharp eye on the stones so they didn’t go off kilter and create sparks because, astonishingly, flour dust can explode.

Therefore the miller was “Cockeyed”.

How’s Cider Made?

You’d think it was simple……..Wrong (but it is boring, trust me).

First off cider is a blend of different apples, generally four or five types mixed between those with a neutral base, those with acidity, some with bitterness and some with tartness (which is not the same as tartiness, that’s another thing altogether and is the ‘condition or character of being a tart’). These ‘chosen ones’ are then washed and later ground and pressed whole because much of the flavour comes from the skins.

It takes between 11 – 14 lbs (about 6Kg) of apples to make 8 pints of cider. That’s just rough cider and you can buy scrumpy cider online but Cockeyed Cider is a carefully blended apple cider.

(To be honest making artisan, craft cider is a really boring subject unless you’re a real anorak and if you are then you can Google it yerself.)

Making commercial ‘run of the mill’ cider is far more complicated ‘cos you’ll need to be a chemist rather than a cidermaker adding all sorts of stuff. If you look at the ingredients listed on a tin or bottle of a commercial cider rather than Cockeyed Cider you’d be horrified.

e.g. “Fermented apple juice & glucose syrup, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, acid: E270, E330, antioxidant: E224 (sulphites)”  NB: not brand specific just taken from a generic Google search

Actually most of the alcohol they use is derived from fermenting corn starch syrup which is then diluted with water.

Fizzy cider is made by adding more sugar and yeast than naturally occurs. This generates carbon dioxide and you get fizzy cider; that’s why Cockeyed Cider is flat.

We don’t add extra ‘stuff’ apart from fruit to make our flavoured cider. This could be worth a try……………………………. Great for summer.

Medieval Cider Cup Recipe

In a large jug or bowl mix 2 parts of your favourite Cockeyed Traditional Cider (Bushpig, Copper Beech, Mad Jack, Cock Bird or Devon Jasper) all of which you can buy as bag in box cider online, then add……………………

Sliced apples, oranges, melons, or other seasonal fruit, frozen raspberries, strawberries, or grapes & 1 part ginger beer or ginger ale.

  • Allow to soak for 3 to 6 hours.
  • Strain to remove the sliced fruit.
  • Fill glasses with ice and frozen berries.
  • Fill the glass three quarters full with cider, and top with ginger beer to taste.
  • (Responsibly) Drink copious amounts with friends.

 Apple Facts

  • We all know that the majority of ciders are made from apples, but did you know that there are around 7,500 different varieties of apples.
  • China is the world’s largest producer of apples. In 2006/7 they produced 24,480,000 metric tonnes of apples.
  • If it takes +/- 6Kg to make 8 pints of cider then, if you turned the entire Chinese production that year into cider it would make around 326.4 BILLION pints! That’s enough to fill over 395,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.
  • A medium apple is about 80 calories.
  • The science of apple growing is called pomology.
  • Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records the heaviest apple weighed 1.849 kg (4 lb 1 oz) and was grown and picked by Chisato Iwasaki at his apple farm in Hirosaki City, Japan October 24 2005.
  • America’s longest-lived apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard and was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.
  • The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)
  • Don’t peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fibre and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Antioxidants help to reduce damage to cells, which can trigger some diseases.