Hard Cider is hot right now; it’s everyone’s new favorite boozy drink. Still, cider has been around for ages, and we’re talking about thousands of years! The noble fermented drink is a wonderful way of making the most of the world’s tastiest apples — when life gives you apples, make cider, right?
This is our quick guide to everything apple cider, from its production process to its flavor. Pour yourself a fizzy glass of hard cider, sit back and relax because this will be one tasty guide. What is hard cider? Let’s start from the beginning.
What is Hard Cider?
In a nutshell, hard cider results from fermenting apple juice. Just like one can ferment grape juice to get wine, you can allow sugar-munching yeast to turn sweet apple juice into cider.
No two ciders are alike, though. Cider can be slightly fizzy or all-out foamy; it can be addictively sweet or bone dry. And it’s in such a wide variety where cider lovers find so much satisfaction.
Apples grow in cold climates, so it’s no surprise the largest cider-producing countries share northern latitudes, including France, Britain, Canada, Spain and the USA. And of course, not all apples are ideal for making cider; some apples are “cookers,” and others are “eaters.” Apples used for cider must contain high amounts of sugar and enough acidity to balance it.
What’s the difference between hard cider and cider? Since some producers make sparkling apple juice with little-to-no alcohol and label it as cider, the term hard cider was coined to refer to the alcoholic kind or real cider.
How is Hard Cider Made?
Although any enthusiast can make cider at home with apple juice and yeast, which is pretty satisfying, making hard cider professionally is a bit more complicated. It all starts in the orchards, where there’s something to do every day of the year to ensure a healthy crop. You can’t make great hard cider without great apples.
Once the apples are picked, they’re “scratted” or crushed to get pomace. After pressing the pomace, producers get the sweet nectar soon to become hard cider, while leaving most of the solids behind. The next step is up to the yeast, microscopic fungi that turns sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Cider makers must stay vigilant, though, as controlling the fermentation’s temperature is critical to ensure a high-quality product. Fermentation can take up to three months!
The producers decide the cider’s sweetness level, as they can halt fermentation at any time. The rest is clarifying, filtering and sometimes aging the cider. The quality of the fruit and the commitment of the cider maker determine if the product is a sweet, uncomplicated concoction designed for retail or an authentic age-worthy masterpiece up there with the finest wines in the world.
Make Hard Cider Part of Your Life!
Hard ciders vary widely. Some are sweet and summery, and others are sophisticated and dry. They all share an addictive, thirst-quenching tartness, though, and the loveliest scents of freshly picked apples.
Commercial cider might be popular right now, but craft cider is on the rise. There’s no doubt the apple-based beverage is amongst the finest alcoholic drinks globally, and it’s time we pay our respects to such noble fermented drink!