Cider is an ancient drink. A lot of people think of it as fermented apple juice. So you’d think it’s simple to make, right?
Wrong! Not if you make it properly, anyway.
First off, a real cider is a blend of different apple varieties, generally four or five mixed together: those with a neutral base, those with acidity, some with bitterness and some with tartness.
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 and 14 lbs (about 6kg) of apples to make eight pints of scrumpy cider.
(Be warned: making artisanal cider is a really boring subject unless you’re a real anorak.)
Commercial Cider vs. Craft Cider: What Are the Differences?
Making commercial ‘run of the mill’ cider is actually far more complicated than making true craft cider, because you need to be more of a chemist than a brewing enthusiast.
If you were to compare the ingredients of our cider to the ingredients listed on a can or bottle of a commercial cider, you’d be horrified at the latter.
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 in commercial ciders is derived from fermenting corn starch syrup, which is then diluted with water.
Fizzy cider is made by adding more sugar and more yeast than naturally occurs, which in turn generates carbon dioxide and results in the fizz.
That’s why Cockeyed cider is flat: because we don’t add extra ‘stuff’, apart from fruit in certain instances (i.e. in our fruit ciders).
Speaking of which, here’s how you can dabble in your own cider-making…
Medieval Cider Cup Recipe
In a large jug or bowl, mix two parts of your favourite Cockeyed cider (Bushpig, Copper Beech, Mad Jack, Cock Bird or Devon Jasper).
Then add sliced apples, oranges, melons or other seasonal fruit, frozen raspberries, strawberries, or grapes.
Then add one part ginger beer or ginger ale.
Allow this concoction to soak for three to six hours, then strain it to remove the sliced fruit.
Fill glasses with ice and frozen berries.
Fill each glass three quarters full with cider, and top with ginger beer to taste.
(Responsibly…) Drink copious amounts with friends.