While cider is often thought of as a non-alcoholic drink that becomes particularly popular during the fall season, it is also an alcoholic beverage created by using the fermented apple juice. There are also pear versions, referred to as perry, that contain no apple juice.
Cider is a popular drink in many countries, although the UK is the leader for cider consumption and production.
There are many different types of cider available on the market today. Each type, which can often be classified as ranging between dry and sweet, has its own distinctive flavor. In addition, the appearance can also greatly differ, such as clear or cloudy and ranging from a light yellow to orange to brown.
The way a cider looks depends on the filtering that occurs between the pressing and fermentation processes. However, there are some apple varieties used to create cider that produce a clear final product without having to be filtered at all.
When creating cider, apples that are suitable for consumption are often considered perfect for creating the tasty drink. However, some manufacturers actually prefer to use apples grown exclusively for creating cider, or even a mixture of both. The good news is that there are many apples for manufacturers to choose from, because there are several hundred varieties cultivated just for them.
An apple that is ready to be used to create cider is first scratted, or ground down, to create a pommage or pomace. This has been done either using a cider mill or stones pressed in a circular trough. While early manufacturers scratted apples by hand, horse-power, or with a water-mill, electricity is most often used today.
The pulp created through scratting is moved to a cider press where a layered block, known as cheese, is created. Juice is squeezed from the cheese, strained, and placed in either a closed cask or an open vat while awaiting fermentation.
During the fermentation process, the temperature is often kept low in order to slow down and the process and still keep the liquid’s delicate aroma in tact.
Fermentation can consume the liquid’s sugar. But, before that can happen, the liquid is siphoned, or racked, and placed in new vats. The undesirable materials created during fermentation, such as dead yeast cells, are left in the old vat.
In order to make sure airborne bacteria doesn’t find its way into the cider, the vats are completely filled and the fermentation process continues. In the last leg of the process, a little carbon dioxide is produced, giving the cider slight carbonation.
If when the final product is still too cloudy for the manufacturer’s liking, the racking process may be repeated.
Once the cider is complete, it’s time for bottling. It isn’t uncommon for ciders made from different apple varieties to be blended together into one bottle. Extra sugar may even be added to created extra sparkle. Cider is high in antioxidants and phenolics, making it the perfect drink to not only to satisfy a cider craving, but to help with ailments such as cancer and/or heart disease.