What is Real Cider?
I guess that coming from the UK, and growing up in Ciderland, I just absorbed the knowledge of what Real Cider should be. Scrumping was a favourite pastime in the late days of the English school summer break, and stealing and eating cider apples from our local orchards was a part of growing up. (As was the inevitable stomach ache afterwards). In later life, living in Somerset, and surrounded by Cider culture, it was easy to soak up the heritage, and sample many great and not so great farmhouse and local village ciders.
There is a question that I am always asked....
What is a real Cider?
Well you need to start with the apples. Traditionally you need a third sharps, a third bitter-sweets, and a third sweets.
A third of Sweet Cider Apples
A sweet cider apple is an eating apple, but that doesn't mean that you can use any eating apple. You need an eating apple that is packed with flavour and sweetness, and low in acids. That rules out most of the Australian eating apples, that are designed for the ability to store and to resist bruising, and are often quite high in acids. Typically sweet cider apples are early apples, that soften quickly, and while they taste magnificent they are not commercially grown in Australia. The supermarkets would not be interested in stocking them.
The source of apples for the majority of Australian Cider is less than ideal, the bulk of available apples being eating apples that are designed for 21st century supermarkets, and with no useful characteristics making Cider.
So a real Cider needs a sweet apple that packs flavour along with sweetness. We chose the Jonagold and Sweet Coppin as our major suppliers of sweetness, but there are many others that could be used.
A third of Bitter-Sweet Cider Apples
A bitter-sweet cider apple is a sour apple, with ..... acids and ...... tannins. This type of apple must be specifically planted for Cider (or sometimes for cooking) as it is not a good eating apple.