The following is an excerpt from an article that was originally published in Issue 1 of inCiderJapan magazine.
Simply put, cider is a fermented beverage produced from apples. It’s made all over the world but we have the Romans and Greeks to thank for mastering the art of cider making. When the Romans invaded England in 55BC, they found that the locals were enjoying the fermented beverage and took it upon themselves to take it to the next level. The art of fermenting and later distilling the fruit was perfected in England, France, and Spain.
Cider apples are cultivated specifically for cider-making and different varieties are used for different qualities. The British and French categorize their cider apples into four classes: bittersweet, bittersharp, sharp and sweet; each based on its tannin and acidity levels.
These apples are hand-harvested and then pressed into juice. The blend of apples used is up to the cider maker and the style he or she wishes to impart. Yeast is added to the fresh-pressed juice to begin fermentation. The yeast cells convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide and once the sugars are converted, you have a dry cider. From there, the cider maker has some decisions to make depending on the levels of acid, PH, SO2 and specific gravity (concentration of sugar in water).
There are two major camps of cider: traditional, sometimes called “orchard-base” cider, which varies from region to region, and modern, where creativity is king.
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