Welcome to the A- Z of cider.
In this new feature we attempt to untangle and defangle the story of cider. So roll up, roll up as we get started with the humble letter ‘A’ which, luckily for us, indulges our passion for something which we wouldn’t be here without – apples.
Where did apples come from?
Space. OK, that’s a lie. The answer is, as far as historical records suggest, 12th century Europe. The funky monks brought apples to the UK shortly after this time – they promoted their robustness in the face of harsh weather conditions as well as the use of apples in drinks making and as a tasty food stuff too.
What’s a weird apple fact?
You have Genghis Khan to thank for your Granny Smith. Fact.
Apples are originally from Tibet / China / that rough geographic area but were brought into Europe by the horse tribes of Genghis Khan – horses ate the apples, the seeds fermented in the horses’ gut (which is required for germination) and so the apple journeyed across the silk trail into Europe.
How many different types of apples are there?
It’s thought there are around 7,500 different varieties of apples across the globe. Some of the apples we use give a glimmer of their individual history – Stirling Castle, Hawthornden and White Melrose as well as key people like James Grieve and Edinburgh Gardener.
What different varieties of apples have in common is their make-up – an apple is 90% water (take that fact to your next pub quiz!) The rest of the apple is a whirl of naturally occurring organic acids, tannins, nitrogenous compounds, minerals, salts and sugars. And that’s just on the inside. On the skin of an apple you should be able to find wild yeasts which – along with everything else – are integral to the cider making process.
What apples are best for cider?
Of course, not all apples taste the same so if you fancy having a stab at your own cider making session a good rule of thumb is a nice mix between cooking apples, dessert apples and juicing apples. Fruit should be in good condition (don’t rely purely on windfall) and you’ll know when an apple is ready to pick as you should be able to softly twist it off the stem. Remove any rot, clean the fruit – but not too much to ensure the presence of wild yeast – and add a quantity of sugar syrup to compensate for bad summer weather.
Help! Help! I’m overrun with apples!
Fear not, if your garden is over flowing with apples, Thistly Cross will gladly rehome them in our cidershed. Keep an eye on our Facebook page or our Twitter for more information on Thistly Cross Apple Amnesty.