The Cider Story

What is cider?  Hard cider?  Sweet cider?  Is it made around the world?  Learn a little bit about the history of cider and the current cider comeback in the USA.

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What is Cider?

Cider is the juice of pressed apples. In most countries “cider” implies apple juice that has been fermented by yeast, and “sweet” cider means fresh, unfermented juice.  The US and Canada have a unique tradition of consuming fresh sweet cider during Autumn, and for Americans “hard” cider denotes the fermented beverage.  On this site, the word “cider” means the fermented juice of apples, as it does in the rest of the world.

Ciders of the World

The Celtic peoples of ancient Europe believed that apple trees were sacred, and considered cider a gift from the gods!  Apple varieties that made especially good ciders were selected and propagated, and some cider apples still grown today can be traced back to ancient eras.

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More than 1000 different apples are grown for cider today in Europe and America, and blends of these apples create ciders with diverse aromas, textures, sweetness and acidity, and flavors.

American Ciders

From 1650 to 1880 cider was a mainstay of the daily diet in America, especially in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions.  Every farmhouse had a barrel cellar, and each homestead had its small orchard.

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Many traditional American apples were prized for cider making. Cider and vinegar were considered “health foods” that provided essential vitamins and nutrition. Today we also know that cider is rich in antioxidants, and that moderate cider, wine or beer consumption reduces the likelihood of several chronic diseases.

The Cider Comeback

When Prohibition went into effect, laws restricting the production of cider caused orchards to stop growing cider apples altogether, dealing our long held cider tradition a mighty blow.  After Prohibition was repealed, beer and spirits eventually recovered, but cider did not; the apples were gone.

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It’s been a long but lovely road and now with more and more cider apple orchards being planted and top worked, the move of consumers towards gluten-free beverages, and the focus on craft beverages: Cider is coming back on the scene…you’ll find it everywhere once you start looking! The traditions of cider making lived on in the countryside wherever apples were grown.