Apple Cider: Nature’s Treat-by Dena Harris Item Number: apple-cider--nature-s-treat-by-dena-harris
Just hearing the words “apple cider” conjures up
warm memories. What better beverage to sip watching high-school football games
or while keeping a lookout for trick-or-treaters? Apple cider goes with
bonfires, homecoming dances, picking out the perfect pumpkin, raking leaves, and
Sweet vs. Hard Cider
The difference between apple juice and apple cider is that apple juice has undergone a filtration process to remove all the particles and sediment that give cider its cloudy appearance. In America we understand that requesting a glass of apple cider means we’re asking for raw apple juice. Ask for apple cider anywhere outside the U.S. though, and you’ll be served a fermented drink with a varying alcohol content. To distinguish between the two, Americans call unfermented cider “sweet cider” and fermented alcoholic cider “hard cider.”
Elsewhere, though, cider is cider, and it’s the hard stuff. France, which produces the most cider, calls it “cidre.” You’d ask for “sidra” in Spain and “apfelwein (apple wine)” in Germany.
Apple trees existed along the Nile River in ancient Egypt, but we don’t know whether cider was ever produced. Knowledge of cider consumption came in 55 BC when the Romans arrived in England and discovered natives partaking heartily of the beverage. Cider spent centauries making its way around Europe, eventually becoming a favorite of Napoleon.
Cider-making was an important industry. Monasteries supported themselves by selling vats of their cider to England’s populace. By the mid 1600s, a cider press was as common a household appliance as the toaster is today with almost every farm boasting its own apple orchard and press for cider-making. Landlords and employers often used cider to pay employees, as well as to pay rent and taxes.
Cider was so loved sonnets were written in tribute. The most famous is a two-volume epic poem penned in 1708 by the English poet J. Phillips entitled, appropriately, “Cyder.”
English colonists came to America bearing massive quantities of apple seeds with the intention of growing the apples not to eat them, but to drink them. Successful apple orchards were established in Virginia and Massachusetts Bay Colony by 1629.
Hard cider quickly became the most popular drink in Colonial America. Even as late as the mid 1800s, hard cider remained almost twice as popular as beer. The temperance movement led to the demise of drinking hard cider, and by the end of Prohibition in 1933, cider was all but forgotten as a drink. Only in recent years has hard cider made a comeback in the U.S.
Here’s To Your Health
John Adams, the second President of the United States, lived to be 91 and never left the house in the morning without first drinking a pitcher of cider, claiming its health benefits.
A 6-oz. glass of un-pasteurized apple cider contains only 87 calories. The juice contains no cholesterol and no added sugars. Be aware: mass-produced cider—for example, most cider found in supermarkets—will almost always contain preservatives to allow it longer shelf life.
Although cider can be purchased from farmers’
markets, roadside stands, and local orchards, cider still tastes best when you
make your own.
Before beginning, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water. Rinse all apples thoroughly in water. Make sure apples are fresh. Discard any spoiled apples and cut out any brown spots. Core and then cut the apples, and if you don’t have your own cider press, place the cut apples in a blender or food processor. Once the apples reach an applesauce-like consistency, place the pulp in a muslin sack or jelly bag. Squeeze the juice into a tray and then pour into a glass or bottle. Refrigerate immediately and drink within the next five days.
Although most un-pasteurized cider is safe for drinking, the FDA recommends that young children, the elderly, and anyone with weakened immune systems drink only pasteurized (heated to destroy bacteria) juice. To pasteurize, heat to at least 160° Fahrenheit.
Serve the drink hot or cold at a Halloween get-together, a tailgating party, or just sitting on the front porch talking with old friends. Whether you buy from producers or make your own, don’t let this fall season slip by without sipping from a mug filled with sweet natural cider.