Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own

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9780881504682: Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own

Once the drink of choice in England and the Americas, cider was also integral to early American cooking. Now this drink is finding its way back into markets and onto menus as an alternative to handcrafted beer. This book explores the cultural and historical roots of cider. It introduces the reader to the different styles of cider - draft, farmhouse, French, New England, sparkling, and speciality blends made with honey or other fruit juices - and describes how they are made today. It offers tips on both the fundamentals and advanced techniques of cider making, including: the best types and blends of apples, from American dessert fruit like Baldwin and Golden Russet, to Vintage European cider apples like Foxwhelp and Dabinett; new and traditional techniques for harvesting, storing and pressing apples; and tips on how to cook creatively with cider, including recipes for jelly, syrup, vinegar, apple wine and applejack.

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Review:

Slack-My-Girdle. Never has a fruit been better named. It's an apple, in this case, favored in Devonshire, England, by apple cider makers. A few pints of their good cider and you may want to slack your girdle, too. Crack the cover of Ben Watson's Cider, Hard and Sweet and you may find yourself planting apple trees against the day you too can fill your basement with jugs of fermenting apple juice. You would be following in a long, long tradition.

Watson's history of cider starts with the apple itself in the Tien-Shan mountains of far off Kazakstan. Alma-Ata, formerly the Kazak capital, translates as "father of apples." There have been a number of apple-centric books published of late, all of them echoing similar historic details. Watson distinguishes himself by focusing on the place of cider--the alcoholic beverage--in human history, particularly American history. "In 1726," the author tells us, "it was reported that a single village near Boston, consisting of about 40 families, put up nearly 10,000 barrels of cider. One historian stated that in the year 1767 a per capita average of 1.14 barrels of cider were consumed in Massachusetts." That'd be 35 gallons per person!

The arrival of breweries and brewers with German and eastern European immigration in the late 1800s, the codling moth, the exodus from farm to city of the majority American population, Prohibition, bad winters--all these factors and more led to the decline of cider making in America. A few farmers continued in the tradition; everyone else made and sold apple juice and called it cider. The tradition hung on in Britain and Europe, however, and new American cider makers are taking advantage of this living body of knowledge, planting European cider apples and trying some of the old varieties still available in this country. A book such as Cider will encourage the movement.

Watson gives clear instructions to get the cider enthusiast started, and then fills in with the kind of details that push the beginner deeper into the subject, deeper into the skills and legacy. A valuable resource for anyone interested in giving cider making a go, Cider, Hard and Sweet will be just as useful to anyone who has discovered the delicious world of cider, and wants to know more. --Schuyler Ingle

About the Author:

Ben Watson, a freelance writer and editor, is the author of Acts of God: The Old Farmer's Almanac Unpredictable Guide to Weather and Natural Disasters; Taylor's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables; and the co-author of Passport to Gardening. He lives in Francestown, New Hampshire.

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Ben Watson
Editore: Countryman Pr (1999)
ISBN 10: 0881504688 ISBN 13: 9780881504682
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