Cider apples are a group of apple cultivars grown for their use in cider production. In the UK the Long Ashton Research Station categorised cider apples in 1903 into four main types according to the nature of their flavour components. For cider production it is important that the fruit contains high sugar levels which encourage fermentation and raise the final alcohol levels. Cider apples therefore often have higher sugar levels than dessert and cooking apples.
- Sweets This group is low in tannins (<0.2%) and acidity (<0.45%).
- Sharps This group is high in acidity (>0.45%) and low in tannins (<0.2%). The high acidity, together with that from the bittersharp group, can add 'bite' to the cider.
- Bittersweets This group is low in acidity (<0.45%) and high in tannin (>0.2%). The raised levels of tannin, which tastes bitter and is astringent, adds a bitterness to the cider. A certain amount of bitterness is expected in ciders of the West Country Style.
- Bittersharps This group is high in both acidity (>0.45%) and tannin (>0.2%).
Normally, ciders are blended using juice from several apple cultivars to give the best results. There are few varieties that will make a good cider all by themselves, Golden Russet is one such variety, and is prized in both single variety and multi-variety blends of cider.
Three apple cultivars from England are 'Kingston Black', 'Stoke Red', and 'Dymock Red':
- Kingston Black Apple is probably named after the village of Kingston, near Taunton, Somerset;
- 'Stoke Red' is from Rodney Stoke, between Cheddar and Wells;
- 'Dymock Red' is from Dymock in Gloucestershire.
Famous American cider apple cultivars are Harrison Cider Apple, 'Campfield', Hewe's Virginia Crab, and Yates. The first two originated in Essex County, New Jersey before 1776. The Hewe's was grown from early 1700s and by President Thomas Jefferson in his cider orchard.
Cider is made in several countries and can be made from any apples. In the UK there are two distinct styles: one using dessert (eating) and culinary (cooking) apples (Eastern Counties style) and one using special cider apples used only for cider production (West Country style). In the US, unqualified "cider" usually taken to mean apple cider, or unfiltered and unsweetened apple juice; the term "hard cider" is used to refer to the fermented alcoholic variety.
- Cider Apple Compositional Data at cider.org.uk
- Dymock Red at orchard-group.uklinux.net
- Calhoun, Creighton Lee, Jr, Old Southern Apples, Blacksburg, Virginia, The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 1995, page 87
- William Coxe (1817). A view of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees and the Management of Orchards and Cider. Philadelphia.
- "A Somerset Pomona" [ISBN 1-874336-87-3] by Liz Copas
- National Collection of Cider and Perry at Middle Farm, Firle near Lewes
- Cider Apples article on the ukcider wiki
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