The Orchard Artists
Cider and perry are refreshing, civilized, and gaining in popularity. That they happen to be gluten-free is merely convenient happenstance.
Cider and perry are refreshing, civilized, and gaining in popularity. That they happen to be gluten-free is merely convenient happenstance. Every year brings new versions, but thankfully, you need not camp outside the store overnight to get your hands on these apples.
MY FIRST TASTE OF
a Mcintosh is branded upon my memory. All I’d known before that glorious day was Red Delicious, whose name I’d always felt was at best 50 percent accurate. The Mcintosh was different, though, with an intoxicating juxtaposition of sweet, tart, crisp, and juicy. This was nothing like those mealy apples I’d suffered through in my younger years.
Discovering artisanal cider has been equally as revelatory. Far from the generic fizzy apple juice that hides behind the unfortunate name “hard cider” in the United States and Canada (a term unknown elsewhere), craft cider is every bit as sophisticated and nuanced as wine, a beverage with which it shares even more similarity than it does with beer.
From France’s champagne-like cidre brut and Germany’s thirst-quenching Apfelwein to tannic scrumpy from England and New England’s fortified winter warmers, there’s a cider for virtually every taste. And let’s not forget perry, cider’s lesser known but no-less-refined sibling. These aren’t just fermented fruits: They’re apples and pears from heaven.
If you live outside North America, cider means a beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. But, in the United States and English-speaking Canada, the word cider without further designation refers to the cloudy, unfiltered, unfermented juice of freshly pressed apples. An American or Canadian cider seeker in search of the good stuff must usually request “hard cider,” an insult to both the product itself and to the person trying to order it. Perry, the fermented juice of pressed pears, suffers from no such indignity, but you might occasionally hear it called “pear cider.” For the purposes of this discussion, cider and perry refer to the fermented juices of the apple and pear, respectively.
Making cider may appear deceptively simple in that there is no malting, no mashing, no lautering, no sparging, and no boiling: Indeed, there’s no brewing at all (brewing is a term reserved for beer). After apples are picked, they are washed and then crushed into a rough pulp, a process rather onomatopoetically termed scratting. The pulp is pressed through a filter to collect as much of the sugary apple juice as possible, leaving behind a fibrous mass called pomace.
After the juice has been liberated from the apples, it is inoculated with yeast (except in certain cases in which unpasteurized juice is allowed to spontaneously ferment) and is fermented for a period of weeks or months. After fermentation, the
Making cider may appear deceptively simple in that there is no malting, no mashing, no lautering, no sparging, and no boiling: Indeed, there’s no brewing at all (brewing is a term reserved for beer).