Apple Series: 04 CyderOctober 19th, 2020
“Communion with the Apple God
And passed from hand to hand,
The clear drop that quenches working thirst.
Rebellious, yet subtle and triumphant.”
– from Cydermaking: The Forgotten Miracle by James Crowden
In this final instalment of our apple harvest series, we’re talking about the final stage of our apples’ journey and its origins: cyder.
Cyder (not ‘cider’ – we’ll explain) is made by fermenting apple juice. It can be cyder, dessert or even eating apples and takes a variety of forms – dry, medium, sweet; still, cloudy, gently sparkling. We like ours made from 100% fresh cyder apples, no added sugar or water. Slowly cold-fermented in our cellar for months, sometimes years, for an aromatic golden liquor expressing the full flavour of the orchard. The weather of that growing season, even.
Did you know that the hotter the summer, the stronger the cyder? Sun increases the sugar and therefore alcohol content within the fruit. Best brace yourselves for our 2020 vintages.
The Greeks and Romans may have mastered the art of cyder making, but when Julius Caesar invaded our shores around 55 BC, he found it already being quaffed in our apple-growing regions: Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Somerset. Evidence shows that Celts in Britain were making crab apple cyder as long ago as 3000 BC; it was often safer to drink than water!
So what did the Romans ever do for cyder making? They introduced apple cultivars and orchard methods. The Norman invasion in 1066 saw the introduction of tannic and acidic cyder apples, as well as new and efficient pressing technologies, transforming cyder making here forever.
By the 17th century, when Hadspen House was built, the finest quality sparkling cyders were being enjoyed by sniffy Somerset gentry – with watered down ‘cider’ served to the farm workers. Records show that the secondary fermentation process being used at this time – in glass bottles, sealed with corks – came well before French monk Dom Pierre Pérignon supposedly invented Champagne.
We honour this forgotten miracle of our county, especially around Apple Day. Join us in the gardens this week, or follow our socials for more on our favourite time of year.
The Newt Mulled Cyder
- 6 x bottles The Newt Dry or Sweet Cyder
- 1 x orange, halved and studded with 6 cloves
- 2 x star anise
- 1 x cinnamon stick
- ¼ nutmeg chopped
- 1cm square fresh ginger crushed
- 50ml 3 yr old apple cyder brandy
- 50g soft dark brown sugar (not needed if using Sweet Cyder)
Add all ingredients, except the brandy, to a large saucepan.
Gently warm to mull together for 20-30 minutes.
Add the brandy and serve in warmed glasses.
It’s time to celebrate our history, harvest and community.
Displays start from 21 October, followed by appley antics over 24-25 October.
Bring your own apples and a container to press them by hand and take your juice home!
Join The Club
Sign up to Cyder Club for quarterly deliveries of our finest cyders, selected by Cellar Master Greg and Cyder Maker Paul. Plus exclusive events, special reserves and limited-edition releases. It also makes for easy gifting.